Specialty nursing organizations can submit their scope and standards of practice documents to the American Nurses Association (ANA) to gain national recognition. The first standards for nursing professional development (NPD) were approved by the ANA in 2000 and were updated in 2010 (ANA & National Nursing Staff Development Organization [NNSDO]). The ANA guidelines issued in 2010 require updates every 5 years.
In 2014, the Association for Nursing Professional Development Board of Directors convened a workgroup of 12 NPD experts, under the authors' direction, to update the foundational document for this specialty. The third edition of the Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice (Harper & Maloney, 2016) was released in July 2016, following ANA approval of the revised scope of practice and acknowledgement of the standards. The 2016 version of the scope and standards is divided into four sections: overview, scope of practice, standards of professional practice, and standards of professional performance (Harper & Maloney, 2016).
The overview defines the specialty, provides historical perspective, and gives a high-level summary of the changes. NPD is defined as
A specialized nursing practice that facilitates the professional role development and growth of nurses and other healthcare personnel along the continuum from novice to expert.
Among the most notable changes are the differentiation between the NPD generalist and specialist, a focus on interprofessional continuing education and collaboration, and the delineation of seven distinct roles identified by Warren's and Harper's (2016) NPD role delineation study.
Scope of Practice
The NPD scope of practice delineates the who, what, where, when, why, and how (Harper & Maloney, 2016, p. 9) of the specialty practice (Figure). NPD practice occurs continuously (i.e., the when) in the interprofessional practice and learning environments (i.e., the where) as the NPD practitioner scans the environment to identify actual or potential professional practice gaps.
Nursing professional development (NPD) practice model; © 2016 by the Association for Nursing Professional Development.
The inputs of the systems model of NPD practice consist of the learner and NPD practitioner (i.e., the who). NPD practitioner is a new umbrella term that encompasses both the NPD generalist and the NPD specialist. The generalist is a practitioner who has a baccalaureate degree with or without certification in NPD or a graduate degree without certification in NPD. The specialist designation is limited to the graduate-prepared nurse who is certified in NPD.
The central core in the throughputs section of the NPD practice model is the NPD standards of practice. The standards represent how the specialty practice is operationalized. This core is surrounded by a gear with numbered cogs (Figure). The numbers align with the NPD practitioner roles, shown in the bottom left corner. The gear indicates that NPD practitioners may engage in any of the seven roles as they implement the responsibilities of their practice (i.e., the what). These responsibilities are pictured in the outer circle of the throughputs.
The outputs of the NPD practice model depict the outcomes of practice and consist of learning, which promotes change, which ultimately contributes to professional role competence and growth. The over-arching goals of NPD practice align with the overall goals of nursing (ANA, 2015): optimal care and health. Ultimately the public is protected by competent healthcare providers. (Harper & Maloney, 2016, p. 22)
Standards of Professional Practice
The NPD specialty standards of practice and professional performance (Harper & Maloney, 2016) are authoritative statements of the duties required of the NPD practitioner that drive current and future practice. Each standard consists of a description of the standard and competency statements indicating how the standard is applied.
The standards of practice (i.e., Standards 1 to 6) define what the NPD practitioner does and align with the nursing process. The standards of professional performance (i.e., Standards 7 to 16) describe how the standards of practice are implemented and address related issues.
In revising the 2010 standards of professional practice, the workgroup was charged with moving from measurement statements to competency statements, reflecting practice as delineated in the NPD role delineation study (Warren & Harper, 2016) and aligning with the nursing scope and standards (ANA, 2015), including two levels of practice: generalist and specialist.
Revisions to the standards of practice (Harper & Maloney, 2016) included the addition of practice gap identification and analysis to Standards 1 and 2, the integration of cultural competency statements into Standards 4 to 6, and the inclusion of a competency statement on leading the coordination of the interprofessional team under Standard 5A. Standard 5B changed from being titled Learning and Practice Environment to Facilitation of Positive Learning and Practice Environments. Not only was the name changed, but additional competency statements were added, including the establishment of the value of positive learning environments and the creation of processes that support seamless transitions to practice and between practice settings. Demonstrating program value was included in a competency statement for Standard 6. Finally, the Standards of Practice (Harper & Maloney, 2016) introduced the theme of Establishing and Demonstrating the Value of NPD Practice.
Seven NPD roles were identified in the role delineation study (Warren & Harper, 2016): learning facilitator, change agent, mentor, leader, champion of scientific inquiry, partner for practice transitions, and advocate for the NPD specialty. These formed the foundation for the Standards of Professional Performance, with the addition of two new standards: Standard 11: Change Management; and Standard 16: Mentorship/Advancing the Profession.
Major changes in Standard 9, Evidence-Based Practice and Research, incorporated the role of the NPD practitioner as, “champion of scientific inquiry, generating new knowledge and integrating best available evidence into practice” (Harper & Maloney, 2016, p. 45). Competency statements (Harper & Maloney, 2016) include:
- Synthesizing and appraising best available evidence.
- Applying implementation science principles.
- Contributing to interprofessional practice.
- Disseminating research.
- Evidence-based practice.
- Participating in quality initiatives
- Advancing the science of NPD practice.
The revisions to Standard 10, Quality of NPD Practice, relate primarily to the NPD specialist and the emphasized use of data for decision making and demonstrating the quality and value of NPD practice to care delivery and patient outcomes. Standard 12, Leadership, continues the emphasis on demonstrating the value of NPD to health care through return on investment, quality care, and improved outcomes. This standard clarifies that NPD leadership goes beyond the unit or department to a broader context both within and outside the organization. Standard 14, Professional Practice Evaluation, expands to incorporate interprofessional feedback and feedback from others outside the NPD practitioners' immediate setting.
Standard 16, Mentorship/Advancing the Profession, is a new standard stating that,
The nursing professional development practitioner advances the profession and the specialty through mentoring and contributing to the professional development of others.
Competency statements under this standard include the promotion of NPD as a specialty; advancing the specialty through scholarship, mentoring, and role modeling; and promoting the value of NPD practice.
The revised standards emphasize interprofessional practice, extension of NPD leadership beyond the practice setting, the importance of demonstrating the value of NPD, and the recognition of NPD as a unique specialty for nurses who facilitate the professional role development and growth of health care personnel.
NPD has long been approved as a nursing specialty by the ANA, as evidenced by the Scope and Standards of Practice (Harper & Maloney, 2016). Despite this recognition, many nurses, including those who practice NPD, fail to recognize this specialty as having a distinct body of knowledge, clearly delineated responsibilities, and the ability to make significant contributions to health care. The updated Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice (Harper & Maloney, 2016) provides clear evidence of the importance and value of this specialty practice.
- American Nurses Association. (2000). Scope and standards of practice for nursing professional development. Washington, DC: Author.
- American Nurses Association. (2010). Recognition of a nursing specialty, approval of a specialty nursing scope of practice statement, and acknowledgement of speciality nursing standards of practice. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Tools/3-S-Booklet.pdf
- American Nurses Association. (2015). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice (3rd ed.) Silver Spring, MD: Author.
- American Nurses Association and National Nursing Staff Development Organization. (2010). Nursing professional development: Scope and standards of practice. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.
- Harper, M.G. & Maloney, P. (Eds.). (2016). Nursing professional development: Scope and standards of practice (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Association for Nursing Professional Development.
- Warren, J.I. & Harper, M.G. (2016). Transforming roles of nursing professional development practitioners. Chicago, IL: Association for Nursing Professional Development. Retrieved from http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.anpd.org/resource/resmgr/Research/RoleDelineation_ResearchHand.pdf