framed without consulting an accrediting body. If you fail to
account for the standards of excellence governing a profes-
sion’s continuing education programs, your education program
may be useless to your members.
“It’s crucial to know the criteria of the accrediting body in
order to create a high-quality continuing education program
that meets the needs of your target audience,” said Mary
Harper, PhD, RN- BC, an industry leader in nursing professional development and the director of nursing professional
development for ANPD.
What are the Outcomes?
When association education programs are developed accord-
ing to members’ needs, the outcomes can be very positive.
Such was the case with ANPD.
After assessing its members’ educational needs, ANPD
tweaked its education programs. From 2014 to 2016, it quadrupled its offerings for members to earn continuing nursing
education contact hours. ANPD created online programs, offered 10 free webinars annually for members, and developed
the Nursing Professional Development Quick Guide Series (a
go-to guide for executing educational activities).
ANPD also developed the Frontline Nurse Leader curriculum, an online program that provides the bedside registered
nurse with leadership knowledge to function effectively in a
charge nurse position, The curriculum is a significant revenue
source for ANPD.
“We wanted to offer our members education that they
A quality continuing education program has impact beyond
couldn’t find elsewhere,” ANPD’s Englebrecht said. “Our
board of directors was awesome. They were open to every new
idea we presented them.”
The results were unprecedented. The organization’s total
revenues nearly doubled from $1.3 million in 2012 to $2.2
million in 2016. Conference attendance increased from
1,132 attendees in 2012 to 1,272 in 2017, and membership
increased more than 30 percent over the same time period.
the association and its professionals’ credentials. An educat-
ed healthcare workforce also improves patient care in hospi-
tals, clinics and medical offices.
“Better education means better patient outcomes and
a higher quality of care,” said SPN’s Eskew. “For hospitals
or health systems that seek accreditation based on clinical
benchmarks, highly educated nurses are an asset, and a bet-ter-educated nursing staff means a healthier community.”
Advice from the Field
Education needs surveys are not one-and-done. Eskew rec-
“What’s really great about fulfilling your members’ educa-
ommends conducting a new survey every three to five years,
turning again to experts to shape varying questions that will
yield the most useful data.
Englebrecht insists that associations should think critically
about how they will respond once the data is available.
“The worst thing you could do is let the survey results sit
on your desk and do nothing. It sends the wrong message, and
your members will think you don’t care,” Englebrecht said.
“That’s why a strategic plan is necessary to help implement
the continuing education program over time.”
tion needs is seeing them grow and develop in their careers
and knowing that you played a significant role in helping them
achieve their goals,” Englebrecht said.
Kristin Dee, CAE, is an Association Executive for SmithBucklin, the association management and service company. She can be reached at 312-673-
5815 or email@example.com.
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