Beyond the Bedside

December 20, 2019

What is it like working in Nursing Education & Development?

By: Savannah Courtright BSN, RN, RN-BC NPD, CNRN
Clinical Educator 5W Neuro & Rehab, Providence Alaska Medical Center

Healthcare is an ever-changing and evolving ocean of evidence-based practice, advancing therapeutic treatments, innovative equipment, and new products. We all know this. We have all felt the struggle of treading water through waves of change. The role of the Educator is to capture all of these topics and bundle them together to provide caregivers with the information and knowledge needed to provide the best care for our patients.

Nursing Education and Development is a specialty in its own right; formally known as Nursing Professional Development (NPD). Working in NPD is wide-ranging in scope: we target education towards nurses, but also across disciplines to achieve better patient outcomes. We educate students who have never touched a patient and also nurses with 30+ years of experience. We teach one-one-one at the bedside and also in classrooms and conferences.

The beauty of transitioning from a bedside nurse to an Educator is that our nursing experience translates really well into Nursing Professional Development. When in doubt, we can always fall back on the Nursing Process: assessment, diagnosis, outcomes/planning, implementation, and evaluation. It works exactly the same way except that instead of being exclusively patient-and-family centered, we add a nurse-centric focus as well.

Along with the rest of healthcare providers, we put a strong focus on our educational outcomes. Sometimes our outcome goal is to decrease hospital-acquired infections in a certain unit after Foley insertion check-offs. Sometimes our outcome goal is to increase the stated level of confidence in RNs after running Code Blue simulations. Sometimes our outcome goal is to go-live with a new product and hear that it “went fine”.

If you ask anyone working in NPD, our own personal measure of success isn’t always measured in outcomes. It’s seeing a new concept finally “click” for someone transitioning to a new role. It’s witnessing the new RN Resident calling a physician and rocking their SBAR. It’s teaching a new process to a nurse, then watching them teach their co-worker. Success is in knowing, in some small way, that you have eased the way for those caring for our patients.

Thinking about going back to school?

The University of Providence now offers a Master of Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Education. For more information about this new program, please visit