During orientation at a new job, all nurses will meet with the clinical nurse educator, who is also referred to as the nursing professional development specialist (NPDS). Clinical instruction is a central part of nursing education. The importance of clinical nursing education is undeniable in personal, professional, and skill development.
As part of orientation, your NPDS will introduce you to your preceptor, and the three of you will meet regularly to assess your progress and comfort in your new position, evaluate your competencies, and determine what training, support, and resources you will need to be successful. The relationship will continue throughout your career development, so it's a good idea to get to know your NPDS well.
NPDS Practice Specialty
The American Nurses Association (ANA) identifies nursing professional development specialist as a practice specialty, which is based on the sciences of nursing, technology, research and evidence-based practice, change, communication, leadership, and education as nursing professional development. NPDSs have knowledge and skills in adult learning principles, nursing career development, program development and management, continuing education, and leadership.
NPDSs help nurses to develop and maintain their competencies, advance their professional nursing practice, and facilitate their achievement of academic and practice career goals. They work in a variety of practice settings and environments of care and encourage lifelong learning. These experienced clinical nurse educators support nursing research, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement through professional nurse development.
The Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD) is the thought and practice leader for nursing professional development and advances quality healthcare by defining and promoting nursing professional development practice.
Wearing Many Hats
Throughout your orientation, you'll probably discover that NPDSs wear many hats. They are educators, leaders, facilitators, consultants, change agents, coaches, and researchers. They orient, precept, mentor, encourage, and guide nurses into new roles and positions. They show you how to manage competencies and build your confidence through engagement and feedback. They review each nurse's portfolio of training, experiences, accomplishments, in-services, and continuing education.
As you progress, NPDSs help you continue to build your knowledge and levels of competency in clinical practice in your work area or in specialty areas that interest you, such as cardiology or pediatrics. They collaborate with you to determine your needs if you choose to advance your practice towards certification and/or another academic degree. Sometimes they also serve as faculty in colleges and universities, which allows them to better mentor you in deciding a best fit for your continued professional development.
NPDSs facilitate evidence-based practice by bringing nursing research to the point of care. They translate, integrate, and evaluate research through practice, education, and discussion with staff. If you have a clinical practice question, your NPDS becomes one of your most valuable resources. The NPDS is there to help you improve your patient care outcomes and add to the body of nursing knowledge as you generate questions about better ways to care for your patients.
Have you developed a relationship with your NPDS? Do you see him or her as a nurse mentor? Leave us a comment below, we'd love to hear from you!