Nursing Professional Development Week – Tips & Ideas

Ongoing professional development is a requirement for most nurses, but there are often obstacles that hinder staff engagement. However, there are several strategies that hospitals can leverage to improve this area. Nursing Professional Development Week is a great tool to promote professional development while improving employee satisfaction and patient care.  

Healthcare is not unique in its need for ongoing development. Many different types of professional careers demand some level of continued professional development. For nursing, lifelong learning helps nurses professionally handle whatever comes their way and helps patients receive the very best care.

Nurses provide essential patient care day in and day out, often without the recognition or thanks they deserve. However, there are select days throughout the year that are designed to do just that, including Nursing Professional Development Week, celebrated annually during the third week of September. 

Nursing Professional Development Week - Tips & Ideas

What is Nursing Professional Development Week?

According to the Association of Nursing Professional Development:

NPD Week is our opportunity to recognize the exceptional work done by nursing professional development team members. During this week, take the time to celebrate your achievements, thank your staff, host educational activities, and teach others about nursing professional development.”

The third week of September is designated as Nursing Professional Development Week. This special week is a chance to recognize the exceptional work that nurses do, celebrate the many areas of the field, and help nurses continue to improve their skills.

Professional Development for Nurses

Professional development in nursing helps nurses stay up to date on the latest medical technology, procedures, and treatments. It also nurtures leadership growth and career advancement for nurses who want to take their careers to another level.

Although continuing professional development is required in nursing to help nurses stay current on the needs of their patients, many nurses want to participate in it to help advance their careers. 

FAQs About Nursing Professional Development

Nursing Professional Development Week - Tips & Ideas

Nurses pursue many career paths, and there are many ways to pursue professional development. I asked Robert Wittwer, SVP of Professional Services, Ascom Americas, some questions about professional development, which are particularly insightful considering his non-traditional nursing career.

What is professional development in nursing?

Wow, that’s a huge question with many possible answers! At its core, professional development is making the effort to step outside of your specific practice and ensure that you are always learning more. For me, that has ranged from learning more about my specialty and emerging best practices to a more formal exploration of the broader nursing world that I might never have considered. For example, I never would have imagined myself, as a second-career nursing student, doing what I do today. But when I look back on my path, it really is a logical progression of roles, many of which were first sparked by some form of formal or informal professional development effort. Much of the passion I have for my work today comes directly from something I was first exposed to at a conference or saw in a paper about how something could be improved.

Why is professional development important for nurses?

Many nurses are understandably burned out, and it’s really sad to see someone who has been in the same specialty for the last 40 years and is unhappy in their professional life. Nursing is incredibly unique because it has many immediate and accessible professional development options. While there is nothing wrong with staying in the same specialty, when you do, it’s important to commit yourself to improving every year. A lot of practices that I learned in my first year as an ICU nurse aren’t the same today, and I am sure this is similar across all practice areas. The only way to keep up is to stay committed to continued development over time. It is your responsibility to drive change, not your managers.

Beyond that, there are few things that are more exciting than feeling like you are really improving care beyond your unit. I took some internet-based CEUs on public health related to infectious diseases back in my early ICU days. It had very little direct application to a nurse working PRN in a CVICU and teaching people how to use their new tele-systems, but it was interesting to me. Several years later, my team had the opportunity to build an algorithm into a low-cost patient monitor to screen for Ebola in Africa, and I was able to apply the knowledge I gained from that professional development effort. You never know where your professional interests might take you!

What are examples of professional development in nursing?

Professional development in nursing is anything that provides educational services that support the unique needs of the NPD practitioner, regardless of experience level. This may include reading books, watching educational videos, listening to industry podcasts, attending conventions, taking CEU courses, and watching webinars. There is a huge range of professional development tools that nurses can pursue depending on their interests.

Best Ways For Hospitals To Utilize Nursing Development Week 

Nursing Professional Development Week, a dedicated week of professional learning and growth, benefits nurses by helping them advance their careers. 

It’s also an effective tool for employers to ensure the highest level of patient care and encourage employee retention by highlighting the need for self-care to avoid burnout.

Through promoting professional development, organizations have an opportunity to create a proficient, motivated, and committed nursing workforce that’s equipped to handle the challenges of an ever-changing field. 

Nurses have an opportunity to explore professional development options that may not be available throughout the year.

To make the most out of this week, healthcare organizations should focus on these three key areas.

1. Recognizing Hard Work And Showing Appreciation 

Nursing takes commitment and hard work. It’s often a thankless job, but people (and nurses are no exception) who are appreciated feel valued. And employees who feel valued will work harder to do a good job, which, for nursing, benefits both patients and employers.

Hospitals can take advantage of Nursing Professional Development Week to show appreciation for their nursing team by:

  • Giving a shoutout to all the nurses for their hard work and dedication.
  • Provide perks such as free coffee, free meals, flex time for self-care, etc.
  • Recognizing nursing achievements publicly through a newsletter or reception.
  • Hosting giveaways or awards for nurses in several categories of professional development.
    • Most CUEs taken
    • Random drawings for nurses who are certified
  • Special nursing pins or badges for nurses with advanced degrees
  • Cash bonuses for nurses who go above and beyond professional development expectations

2. Allocating Necessary Resources For Continued Learning

Every organization should provide a program for professional development that consists of a dedicated professional and the necessary resources to support the learning and growth needs of the nursing staff.

Ideally, this should also include mental health support to help nurses learn and practice self-care during times of high-stress levels.

That said, organizations can vary widely in size and financial resources. Even if your hospital cannot keep a practitioner on staff, there are other things it can do to meet the continual learning needs of its nurses, including:

  • Tuition reimbursement to encourage nurses to get higher learning degrees (BSN, MSN, or doctorate)
  • Providing in-house opportunities for continuing education
  • Offering access to the peer-reviewed medical literature
  • Reimbursement for CE (continuing education) credits
  • Including extra time off so that staff can attend classes, seminars, or workshops without fear of missing days of work
  • Supplying time-sensitive training on new or necessary protocols (ex: COVID-19)
  • Investing in technology that helps nurses improve their clinical skills. According to a new survey from Ascom, 47% of nurse respondents said that technology is significantly enhancing and supplementing their skills as a clinician ‘a great deal’ or ‘a lot.’ More than 96% said technology is enhancing their clinician skills in some way. Nurses are now choosing to work in places that invest in the technologies that help accelerate their workflows.
  • Opportunities for salary increases and career advancement based on achieving additional certifications and degrees

Nursing Professional Development Week is a great time to make sure the nurses on staff know about any and all benefits the hospital provides to help make continuing education easier to attain. A regular newsletter that highlights achievement recognition and offers information about upcoming nursing conferences or continuing education opportunities can help continue this effort forward through the rest of the year.

3. Offering Customized Development Opportunities

Nursing is NOT a one-size-fits-all profession. Part of the appeal of this rewarding field is the opportunity for nurses to pursue areas of interest

Nursing goals often change throughout the course of a career, so an organization needs to be able to meet the varying needs of its workforce. In fact, many choose nursing as a second or third career. People from all walks of life and interest join the profession. For every 100 people you meet, at least 1 will likely be a nurse.

To fully take advantage of Nursing Professional Development Week, learning opportunities must effectively span the range of providing basic instruction for new nurses to ensure across-the-board competency. It must also be able to provide stimulating instruction and growth education for seasoned nurses who want to develop leadership skills or advance their careers. 

Employers can use Nursing Professional Development Week to provide courses, lectures, or workshops on a range of applicable topics, including career planning and leadership. By providing a range of information and opportunities to its staff, a hospital can boost job satisfaction while at the same time helping members of its workforce move into roles they really want.

Nursing Professional Development Week is also a great time to highlight an in-facility career track that encourages its workforce to work toward career advancement without needing to leave their current job. Offering customized development opportunities helps reduce turnover and improve job retention while also ensuring excellent patient care and high employee satisfaction.

How do Ascom’s technology solutions support nurses in their jobs?

Technology’s ability to automate, integrate, and analyze helps nurses “do more with less” as they respond to the changing demands of the workplace.

Fragmented communications and workflows can cause delays and bottlenecks across the care continuum. Patient admission, transfer, and discharge can be delayed because porters don’t receive timely instructions. Nurses can be kept waiting for lab and radiology results. Updating clinical data to EHRs is laborious — and manually entering data is prone to human error. Staff uses valuable time walking to patient rooms when they receive nurse call alerts, instead of first talking to patients to ascertain the seriousness of the request.

The Ascom Healthcare Platform (AHP) addresses these issues by enabling the creation of end-to-end communication and coordination solutions. To develop such solutions, the AHP uses a three-step approach: Integrate, Orchestrate, Enable:

  1. Integrate: refers to the unlocking of digital data from different sources, devices, and systems and the merging of that data into manageable flows. For example, by gathering data from a patient’s EMR, various medical devices, and nurse call systems—then collating all that data and presenting it on a single patient-specific dashboard.
  2. Orchestrate: refers to the ‘traffic control’ of data to become more predictive and help nurses proactively manage care. This is even more important in today’s acute care environments, where patients are sicker than ever before, often with multiple co-morbidities. Monitoring technology combined with intelligent filtering engines can help meet some of the most pressing challenges facing these environments. Powered primarily by Ascom software, this is the phase where data is funneled, filtered, and categorized. Alerts and messages, for example, are escalated and routed to pre-selected alternatives should the initial recipient be unable to respond appropriately. 
  1. Enable: refers to the empowerment of mobile staff—it is the phase where mobile clinicians can view, manage, share and augment context-rich clinical data while on the go or at the bedside. A nurse using an Ascom Myco smartphone to calculate a medical score and upload the results to an EMR from a patient’s bedside is an example of the ‘Enable’ phase at work.

Do nurses have a role to play in the selection and configuration of communication solutions? 

In the recent past, clinicians typically used whatever communication solutions were given to them. Thankfully this is starting to change, and clinicians’ input is increasingly the bedrock for decisions around communication solutions. That’s why Ascom has made Clinical Consulting — where Ascom’s on-staff nurses collaborate with clinicians to pinpoint problems and devise solutions — a prominent part of our Professional Services offerings.

Final Thoughts

Both nurses and healthcare organizations benefit from having a solid nursing professional development program available for staff. 

By providing recognition for hard work and achievements, allocating resources for continual learning, and providing customized career development and advancement opportunities, hospitals can improve employee satisfaction, increase employee retention rate, and reduce turnover. 

These tips can help healthcare organizations leverage Nursing Professional Development Week to promote professional development in order to encourage staff engagement and provide the highest standard of care possible.

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