Professional Development Plan
The path to professional development can be a challenge if not pursued with care. The choice of a career in itself is a concern that many people find difficult to go through. In my decision to be an MSN trained nurse, I had some professional goals and interests, and undertaking the training has been opening my mind to even greater possibilities. My goal to pursue nursing from a practice perspective only has been changing with time and exposure, and I can say that I am slowly shifting towards nursing education. In this paper, my professional development plan is presented. The professional development plan includes a clear statement of professional goals and objectives, my intended career path in nursing, and the influences that I consider key in my path to becoming a professional nurse educator and nurse practitioner. Such a plan is required for every professional to realize structured rather than random growth.
Area of Focus
There are various specialty areas in nursing education. The choice of specialty area depends on a variety of factors. For me, the most desirable specialty area would be health informatics. As an MSN-prepared nurse educator, I would like to disseminate knowledge in health informatics because this is an emerging field that is continuously getting more popular. Additionally, the focus on health informatics is inevitable in the near future and will require even more nurse educators. Training nurses in health informatics will help me understand the concept of health informatics and also apply it in my nursing practice. To be able to work effectively in health informatics, however, there are various competencies that I will focus on attaining prior to direct world involvement. The WHO (2016) clearly outlines some of the competencies required not only in health informatics but in the wider context of nursing education following MSN preparation.
The key competencies in the pursuit of health informatics as a specialty include principles of adult learning; information and communication technology competency; management sciences; health sciences; and human and social contexts competency (Ali et al., 2019). Each of these competencies is important for the health informatics specialty as they enable the nurse educator to accomplish a particular aspect of their role. For instance, competency in adult learning enables the nurse educator to effectively handle the adult students in their class. Adult learners require a different set of skills compared to what is required for younger learners. The effectiveness of the education process depends on the efficacy of the educator, hence on the need to understand the learners. Information and communication technology competency is mandatory for health informatics since information technology is the backbone of informatics. It is impossible to teach health informatics without competency in information and communication technology. Similarly, management sciences play an important role in nurse education across all specialties since the nurse educator is a nurse leader and is responsible for guiding and monitoring the implementation of evidence-based practice procedures among students and younger nurse professionals. Since nursing is a health science, understanding health sciences is mandatory for the MSN-prepared nurse to be able to deliver education in health informatics within the context of health science. Moreover, since nursing, both in education and in practice, is a human-oriented science, competency in managing human and social contexts is mandatory.
My objective as an MSN-prepared nurse is two-edged. Besides being a nurse educator, I also intend to be a practicing nurse and probably a nurse leader. My specific professional goals include 1.) To grow to the position of a nurse leader within the next 3-5 years- this will require me to be active in the practice environment, taking a leadership role in various aspects of practice including general practice, any specialty I may have selected, and even in health informatics education and implementation; 2.) To be registered as an MSN-prepared nurse and take up an active role in health informatics education for nurses within the next 3 years- this will imply that I have built sufficient competency in the areas that are required in health informatics education, and 3.) To develop and implement skills in evidence-based practice as recommended by Stevens (2013). Evidence-based practice is one of the core requirements in any nursing profession, particularly for nurse leaders. For me to be an effective nurse leader and educator, my level of competency in evidence-based practice implementation and leadership should be sufficiently high.
These particular goals have been developed because of their alignment with my nursing philosophy and their capacity to help promote my philosophy. My nurse educator philosophy is to be constantly in a process of self-evaluation and critical self-analysis to identify individual strengths and weaknesses and to improve personal competencies for better teaching outcomes. By clearly stating my professional goals, I believe I will be creating a framework for understanding the professional growth needs at every stage, and through self-analysis, identify the gaps between the expected competencies and my position at any given time. I will therefore be able to find resources that will build me not only in health informatics but also in nurse leadership and evidence-based practice. As such, the professional goals are definitely essential to the accomplishment of my nursing philosophy.
Career decision-making is often a function of various factors. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors influence decisions that individuals make about their professional growth patterns. For me, I believe that the most potentially influential factor will be the social environment in which I live. The social environment plays a crucial role in influencing professional decisions as it determines the truths that one is exposed to. This explains the reason why people would often desire to pursue careers that would enable them to have a positive impact on the social context within which they operate. Accordingly, I have and continue to be influenced by my social environment; for instance, the decision to pursue health informatics is based on the identification of the gap that currently exists in healthcare practice environments. Institutional factors such as the availability of further training opportunities and role allocations will also most likely affect my professional growth, and I intend to etch my niche in practice and in scholarly works by taking advantage of the opportunities presented institutionally.
The concept of scholarship in nursing education is quite an important aspect, and anyone intending to pursue both scholarship and leadership in nursing has to take various measures to ensure success. Personally, I will apply the Boyer model discussed by Whitlatch and Hall (2015), in which scholarship consists of four tenets namely discovery, teaching, application, and integration. On discovery, I intend to use my time to pursue new and unique knowledge for nursing application. I also intend to pursue teaching by fostering communication with students and enhancing their capacity to build bridges in practice; the application will be facilitated through an emphasis on evidence-based practice; while integration will be attained through fostering new interdisciplinary relationships.
The leadership role in an MSN-prepared nurse is somewhat inevitable. At the same time, getting to a position of comfort with the leadership requirements can be a struggle for many. I intend to develop my leadership role in two ways namely, through identification of and learning from superior talent; and through delegation. By learning from superior talent, I will be able to develop the required competencies for leadership and scholarly work since a leader is expected to provide guidance to followers. It is impossible for any leader to provide guidance in areas in which they have no competence. On the other hand, delegation fosters knowledge sharing and performance evaluation of junior staff. I intend to effectively build my team through delegation, in order to avoid micromanagement in leadership.
After completing my MSN preparation, I expect to begin on a path of professional development that will facilitate the achievement of my professional goals within the stipulated timelines. First, I will pursue training in leadership and management. While the MSN program provides various courses on leadership, I believe that I need to undergo additional training on leadership in a more diverse environment that will give me the opportunity to experience interactions with people from other professions. In the nursing practice context as well as in nursing education, nurses commonly interact with diverse populations, some of whom may have diverging beliefs, cultures, and educational backgrounds. To be effective in leadership, there has to be an understanding of this diversity, and its contribution to the nursing environment. Additionally, I would pursue additional training in information technology (IT). Currently, I have no certification in any IT-related field and I believe an IT-related certification will be necessary for at least some introductory knowledge in informatics. Mack (2020) recommends that for a career in health informatics to take place, there ought to be a beginning that involves IT training. Through the combination of leadership and IT training, I am certain I will build sufficient capacity for professional growth.
Reflection and Conclusion
The MSN program has been instrumental in opening my mind to think about greater possibilities in nursing education and practice. As an MSN student, I believe that I have gained sufficient skills and capabilities that will enable me to be not only a nursing scholar but also a nurse leader. The MSN-prepared nurses require different competencies to be able to function effectively in their roles in nursing leadership and scholarship. As an MSN-prepared nurse, I have developed a good action plan that will enable me to pursue my career goals effectively. I intend to grow sufficiently in nurse leadership, to develop skills in health informatics for sharing during nurse education, and to foster skills in evidence-based practice. In my pursuit of these goals, I believe that social and institutional influences will play an important role in decision-making. To ensure this happens effectively, I have decided to apply the Boyer model to professional development, which comprises of the components of discovery, teaching, application, and integration. In my professional growth, I am certain that I will be able to learn from those who have greater talent than myself in Informatics and to delegate to those beneath me incompetence to foster their growth and mine.
Ali, R.A., Benjamin, K., Munir, R., & Ahmed, N.S.O. (2019). A review of informatics competencies tools for nurses and nurse managers. Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics, 14(4). Retrieved from http://cjni.net/journal/?p=5370
Mack, J. (2020). Want to land a job in health informatics? The different paths to employment. University of San Diego. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/hrh/nursing_midwifery/nurse_educator050416.pdf
Stevens, K.R. (2013). The impact of evidence-based practice in nursing and the next big ideas. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 18(2). Retrieved from https://ojin.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-18-2013/No2-May-2013/Impact-of-Evidence-Based-Practice.html
Whitlatch, J., & Hall, V. (2015). Defining scholarship for today’s nurse educator. Chamberlain College of Nursing, LLC. Retrieved from https://sigma.nursingrepository.org/bitstream/handle/10755/601835/1_Whitlatch_J_p71064_1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
WHO (2016). Nurse educator core competencies. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/hrh/nursing_midwifery/nurse_educator050416.pdf