Throughout the year, there are days, weeks, and sometimes months that celebrate different facets of the nursing field. September 23-29 is Nursing Professional Development Week. To know why and how nurses celebrate, we interviewed Patsy Maloney, EdD, MSN, RN-BC, NEA-BC, CEN, who works for Nursing and Healthcare Leadership at the University of Washington Tacoma and who also happens to be the President of the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD).

What is Nursing Professional Development Week? Do you know how long it’s been held?  

Nursing Professional Development Week has been celebrated for over 20 years. Nursing Professional Development Week celebrates the NPD specialty and the roles that these practitioners assume in improving patient care outcomes through orienting and onboarding, role transition programs, competency management, continuing education, collaborative partnerships, and support of evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and research [Source: Harper, M.G., & Maloney, P. (2016). Nursing professional development: Scope and standards of practice (3rd ed.]. Chicago, IL: Association for Nursing Professional Development].

Why is this celebration important? What do you hope that it brings to different nursing communities?

NPD practitioners are usually the first consulted when there is a practice problem and the first dismissed when there is a budget problem. They are often confused with their academic nurse educator colleagues, but they have different responsibilities. This celebration recognizes NPD practitioners for their critical role in health care.

Why should nurses pay attention to it? What can they learn from it?

A quote attributed to Florence Nightingale: “Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses. We must be learning all of our lives.” This quote reminds all nurses that their education and professional development are not over when they finish their nursing programs. It is a lifelong pursuit. To keep learning, growing, and developing, nurses need the NPD practitioner, who builds on their previous education and works to keep them up to date with the latest evidence for practice in their clinical setting.

What should facilities do as a part of celebrating or highlighting it?

This is the time for NPD practitioners to celebrate their achievements and teach others about their specialty. For managers of NPD practitioners, it is a time to say “thank you” and host celebrations.

The Association for Nursing Professional Development provides NPD departments with a toolkit for activities during NPD week. This toolkit suggests making a video of the NPD department presenting an elevator speech, posting photos of the NPD department celebrating complete with balloons and cake, and most importantly, a template for an article that describes what the NPD department does for the organization

What other information should readers know about NPD Week?

Each September, NPD Week focuses on the NPD specialty and its value to health care organizations and the patients served. But the true challenge is to continue to advocate for the NPD specialty and the nursing profession beyond the days of NPD Week and throughout the year.

Michele Wojciechowski

Michele Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer and author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box.

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