The Importance of Staff Development in Nursing

The purpose of this paper is to identify the educational need for and selection of an educational program. Specifically this paper will focus on defining the goals and outcomes for the educational program and describe the learning objectives as well as the design model and learner characteristics. The paper will also review the instructional methods to adopt for delivery and provide examples of resources to be used in the classroom. Lastly the paper will review methods for evaluating the learning of the audience.
Based on the evaluations conducted during weeks two and three, there is a clear need for an educational program that focuses on communication training and relationship building within the critical care nursing force. Communication and collaboration are among the most essential work skills necessary for success in the healthcare arena. Without adequate communication, errors are likely to result and inefficient delivery of health care services are likely. More and more health care organizations are requiring members of their workforce to collaborate together to deliver patient care and function as a unit (Caspi & Reid, 2002). Thus it is vital that educational programs focus on enhancing incumbents skills in these areas to ensure problem solving, decision making and collaboration are effective and beneficial in the healthcare environment.
As Gerber & McGuire (1999) noted it is vital that nurses learn the communications and collaborations skills necessary to enhance communication in the workplace, which will ultimately improve the efficacy of work functions and delivery of service in the health care setting. The educational program will also focus on enhancing nurses technology skills so they are more capable of working in the modern nursing or critical care unit where technological innovations are increasingly being used out of necessity (Zalumas, 1995).

In a critical care nursing environment, without communication nurses cannot work efficiently with other critical care providers to ensure the best interests of the patient are carried out.
The goals and outcomes of the educational intervention selected include: (1) enhancing communication within the critical care nursing unit (2) promoting greater collaboration among work teams by teaching the importance of relationship building and (3) improving critical care teams working knowledge of technological innovations including their understanding of the contributions technology makes to the nursing work environment. The educational intervention or program designed will work to improve staff members comfort level working in a team environment and encourage members of the team to problem solve together in an efficient and productive manner.
Learning Objectives and Design Model
For purposes of this curriculum a task oriented or centered design model will be adopted to facilitate learning among critical care nurses. This model offers steps and strategies for teaching incumbents “how to do” things within the work environment and outlines a series of activities and steps that can occur to enable individuals to attain learning and work objectives (Caspi & Reid, 2002). This model was originally developed to help promote educational supervision, but can be easily modified to accommodate the needs of critical care workers. The model assumes field instruction is vital to the success and ability of students to transfer skills from the classroom to the work environment, part of the reason this model makes sense for critical care workers (Caspi & Reid, 2002).
The task orient model contains three distinct phases; the beginning phase where workers first meet and outline their goals and the tasks they will engage in, as well as negotiate “potential obstacles”; the middle phase and the end phases, where the incumbents review and prioritize goals, select tasks necessary to achieve them, and review the results (Caspi & Reid, 2002). During these latter stages students may adapt their goals and objectives or course of action to facilitate better progress or enhance their outcomes if necessary.
The learning objectives for the educational model selected include enhancing students ability to interact and communicate effectively with diverse staff and patient populations, as well as improving students ability to work with technologically advanced programs. The educational program will also work to improve collaboration between work teams and reduce stress and anxiety among workers associated with using technologies that students may not be familiar with initially. Strategies for overcoming barriers to communication and collaboration within the work environment will also be discussed and highlighted as part of the learning objectives for this educational program.
Learner characteristics that will be evaluated as part of the educational program are diverse and varied. They include personal characteristics including participants age, gender, experiences and educational goals as well as environmental characteristics. For the educational aims and objectives of this program to be met it is vital the teaching strategies adopted consider each student’s learning characteristics individually. As pointed out previously, students in a nursing setting often look to teachers and instructors for direct guidance and support, viewing them as authority figures in an educational context.
For this reason a direct learning approach is necessary as is one that promotes self direction among students. This will encourage students not only to adopt the methods and ideals suggested by instructors but also encourage students to rely more on their intrinsic ability to identify the programs and procedures most likely to facilitate higher learning and education in the classroom environment. It is likely that as students become more comfortable with the educational program developed and methods of collaboration proposed by the program, their learning characteristics may change. Thus it will be vital that instructors consider learner development at each stage of the learning process, adapting the educational program as necessary to meet student’s evolving needs.
The instructional methods adopted should include direct teaching approaches combined with career or work based education that facilitates a more multi dimensional “educational experiences” more intent on preparing incumbents for “career success in a full range of occupations” (Ciaccio et al. 2002, p. 300). The instructional model will also include teaching in a community based setting where critical care nurses are encouraged to interact with members of the community and communicate with community leaders and representatives (Lough, 1999). Lough (1999) supports the importance of establishing academic and community partnerships where educational institutions work with academic instructors to help identify gaps in service and help enhance the efficacy of learning programs.
A work based education will involve teaching students on the job or providing on the job training. This will require evaluation of student’s communication and collaboration building activities in the workplace. To facilitate this, a supervisor will be appointed or mentor that will routinely evaluate a student’s communication efforts and technological ability on the job and off.
The instructional model adopted will allow in house or classroom teachers to adapt their curriculum based on knowledge gathered from the work environment. Students will also be provided the opportunity to compare experiences they gain on the job with those they gain off the job and fill in the gaps in their education where necessary.
No educational program is effective or complete without learner evaluation. Learner evaluation like educational instruction should be multi faceted to be effective and beneficial for all parties participating. At the end of instructional sessions, teachers should evaluate students to assess whether curriculum materials were delivered efficiently and in a manner that achieves the goals and objectives of the program. To achieve learner evaluation, teachers should survey students and ask them to self report on how well they perceive the design of the educational program to be.
Students should also provide recommendations for adapting the educational curriculum in the future to better service their needs and help match their needs based on their independent learner characteristics. Learner evaluation will also come in the way of work performance reviews, which will help instructors identify whether students are achieving their goals from a work perspective.

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