The nursing profession long has recognized the need for education to update knowledge, skills, and attitudes. We are beginning to recognize the need for personal and professional development of the nurse. Many programs have been developed and offered in a variety of locations. Some states have a continuing education requirement for relicensure.
One question that we have not answered satisfactorily is the relationship between attending continuing education programs and improvement in the quality of practice and care given by nurses. We have assumed that the programs presented benefit the nurse and have relevance for application to practice, administration, teaching, or research but we often have not tested this assumption. Nurses need to develop a more scientific basis for continuing professional development. We now have an opportunity to learn more about designing and implementing continuing professional education programs using a practice audit model.
The Continuing Professional Education Development Project, funded jointly by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and The Pennsylvania State University, is a five-year research and development endeavor to develop practice-oriented continuing professional education programs. The project is guided by the Practice Audit Model, a collaborative needs assessment/program development process, and is bringing professions and higher education together to address three major goals:
1. To develop and implement practice-oriented continuing professional education programs through the application of the Practice Audit Model to six selected professions. r
2. To establish collaborative relationships between the University and the professibns in order to strengthen the development and implementation of continuing professional education programs.
3. To develop models of the University/profession collaborative relationship for continuing professional education that can lead to its institutionalization.
The professional teams which have been formed include accounting, architecture, clinical dietetics, clinical psychology, and nursing. The nursing team includes representatives of the Pennsylvania Nurses Association (PNA) - Cheryl Boyer, assistant executive director of PNA and Phyllis F. Miller, associate hospital director and director of nursing at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Mary Beth Strauss, chairman of the American Nurses' Association's Council on Continuing Education and currently a doctoral candidate at Ohio State University, is ANA's representative to the Profession Team. Mary Romelfanger, assistant director ofthe Kentucky State Board of Nursing, is representing the National Council of State Boards of Nursing". Pennsylvania State nursing faculty team members are Debby Hirtle and Laurie M. Gunter. The Profession Team has decided to select gerontological nursing as the area of focus for the project.
At their December 1981 meeting, the nursing team members initiated work on describing the responsibilities and tasks of nurses who provide care to older persons. Profession team members will reconvene in May to discuss methods of measuring practice-oriented continuing education needs. The team tentatively has identified the following domains in gerontological nursing practice for the nurse caring for the older adult patient:
I. Provision of direct client care
II. Nursing administration
III. Participation in activities for the improvement of health care for older clients
IV. Participation in the development of the profession and the self as a professional.
Under each of the above domains, a number of responsibilities and tasks for nurses who are not specialists have been delineated. Nurses interested in providing suggestions or materials about the continuing professional education needs of nurses working with older persons, or to obtain additional information about the project, may contact me.