1. Bradley, Dora PhD, RN-BC

Article Content


The 1990s served as the foundation for the current American Nurses Association (ANA, 2000) Scope and Standards of Practice for Nursing Professional Development. Since that time, we have witnessed considerable changes in our work and practice environments. The evolution of technology has moved teaching/learning practices from the local classroom to virtual global opportunities. Learners are no longer satisfied with expert focused classroom offerings; they want interactive just in time learning that can be obtained from anywhere in the world. During the past 10 years, we have seen the concept of evidence-based practice move from an academic exercise to an expectation in practice. The escalating focus on accountability and outcomes has spotlighted the need to evaluate our contributions in terms of learning and adoption of change. Consequently, the shifting demands necessitated the need to revise and to update the ANA scope and standards.


In response to the need for a revision, a group of nurses from various areas of practice has worked the last year to create a new ANA Scope and Standards for Nursing Professional Development document. The proposed revision has attempted to capture current practice as well as to establish a future trajectory for our continually evolving specialty. A new framework aimed at creating a more dynamic and flexible model for the practice of nursing professional development (NPD) was developed. Within the scope, there have been considerable changes that reflect the increasing demands and the changing learner and learning environment. The group clarified the current standards and measurement criteria and added new standards reflecting the ANA (2004) framework. The new scope and standards recognize the multidimensional factors influencing the future practice of NPD, especially timely issues such as globalization, practice environment, evidence-based practice, and technology.


Historically, NPD activities were conceptualized as the interactive domains of staff development, continuing education, and academia. However, as the practice of NPD has evolved, we decided we needed to evolve to an operational description of domains. The group is proposing an NPD system model based on inputs, processes, and outputs, including a feedback loop. The practice environment, learner, and NPD specialist (NPDS) are conceptualized as inputs, exerting significant influence on NPD processes. Building from the domains used in previous versions, we operationalize NPD processes in terms of orientation, competency, inservice education, continuing education, career development/role transition, research/scholarship, and academics. All NPD processes are supported by evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence. The outputs of the NPD system are learning, change, and professional role competence and growth, which result in protection of the public and provision of quality care. The outputs of the NPD system influence future NPD processes as well as the learner, the NPDS, and the practice environment, creating an ongoing dynamic model.


The proposed scope of practice focuses on articulating the practice of the NPDS and not as much on describing an individual nurse's professional development. Additions include a list of NPDS core competencies and a section on advocacy and ethics. There is clarification about certification in NPD as a critical element of the NPDS practice expectation. To more effectively capture the dynamic role of the NPDS, past role definitions have been expanded to reflect elements of practice, educator/facilitator, educator/academic liaison, change agent/team member, researcher, consultant, leader/communicator, and collaborator/advisor/mentor. Because of the evolving nature of the science and change, a section identifies workforce, clinical practice professional development, and organizational changes that may influence the future of practice.


Revisions of the standards of practice and performance have incorporated a number of changes. The standards and the measurement criteria have been modified and clarified. Additional standards have been added. The "diagnosis" standard was changed to "identification of issues and trends." The new practice standards include 5-A Coordination, 5-B Learning and Practice Environment, and 5-C Consultation. Advocacy was added as a standard for professional performance.


The NPD specialty practice is complex and broad in scope. Therefore, it is important to realize the potential as well as the boundaries of our practice. The proposed document reflects the group's effort to capture the essence of NPD practice. However, the document is not complete.


You will have, if you have not already had, an opportunity to provide comment on this document. It is critical that individuals participate in the public comment process. This document will belong to us and will define who we are, what we do, and how we do it for now and into the future. It is the goal of the new scope and standards to create a dynamic future for our practice. We need to be very proud of the past, current, and future contributions of our specialty to nursing practice, work environments, and patient care.




American Nurses Association. (2004). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice.Washington, DC: American Nurses Publishing. [Context Link]


American Nurses Association. (2000). Scope and standards of practice for nursing professional development. Washington, DC: American Nurses Publishing. [Context Link]