1. Lisanti, Amy Jo BSN, RN, CCRN
  2. Brecher, Deena MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN

Article Content


To direct the educational programs of a pediatric emergency department (ED) to meet the needs of nursing staff, a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) student created a needs assessment utilizing Dillman's Tailored Design Method (TDM).



An educational needs assessment had never been conducted for this nursing staff. The ED's educational programs did not reflect current practice and had consistently low attendance. Currently, 50 percent of ED staff have less than five years of pediatric nursing experience and 20 percent have less than one. To perform a thorough assessment, data were collected from several sources to identify the nursing staff's educational interests, barriers, and goals.



As a quality improvement project, the student created two Internet surveys. One was designed for the nurses to assess their own learning needs and preferences. A second survey for nursing and physician leadership asked subjects to identify the learning needs of nursing staff. Content validity was established by utilizing the Emergency Nurses Association's Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse exam objectives as the content guide. In addition, the surveys were approved by two advanced practice ED nurses.



Dillman's TDM provides a framework for survey creation and implementation that has been shown to consistently provide at least a 70% return rate in studies outside of the clinical setting. Following the TDM, the student utilized a simple format, interesting first question, and no forced answers for both Internet surveys. Dillman's recommended five contacts with subjects were completed over the span of three weeks. Also, a chocolate bar was placed in each subject's mailbox at the beginning of survey implementation as a gesture of trust.



69% of staff nurses and 76% of leadership surveyed responded to the Internet survey. Data analysis and educational planning will be completed by December 10, 2008.



For this project, the TDM provided a large sample return rate in the clinical setting. The data analysis results will be used by the ED's CNS to update this year's educational curriculum to meet the learning needs of nursing staff.


Implications for Practice:

Increasing survey response rates through Dillman's TDM is useful for CNSs to more accurately assess the learning needs of nursing staff.


Section Description

The journal is proud to share the student abstracts accepted for poster presentation at the 2009 National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Conference. These abstracts are submitted under a separate later deadline and therefore did not appear in the journal with the general abstracts. Congratulations to these CNS students and their faculty mentors.