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How To Make CDPs More Meaningful For Your Nursing Staff

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

The NHS is facing a severe nursing shortage; there are currently around 40,000 nursing vacancies across the UK, and the situation is only expected to get worse with Brexit, the continued dearth of nurse educators and long waiting lists at nursing schools.

While the current shortage may bode well for prospective nurses, it is a daunting problem for employers who face stiff competition when trying to recruit, hire and retain qualified nurses. In fact, given the rising demands placed on the NHS, some experts have described the situation as at risk of becoming a "national emergency".

If the NHS is going to survive, it’s essential that hospital management does everything it can to retain good nurses. While mandatory continuing development plans (CDP) can be effective in improving job satisfaction and retention of nursing staff, their effectiveness largely depends on the resources, scaffolding, feedback and encouragement management offer nurses. The bottom line is that personal development planning not only needs to be individualised; it needs to be supported and encouraged at every level of management.

In this article, we explore ways to make CDPs meaningful for Nursing Hires.

The Current Issues Around Personal Development Plans

Continued professional development (CPD) for nurses in the UK is nothing new; it has long been mandatory for all registered nursing practitioners to undertake at least 35 hours of learning (of which 20 must be participatory), during the 3-year period between revalidation dates for their nurses’ registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). While the NMC itself does not define any particular type of CPD, leaving it up to nurses to decide which learning activities will be most useful to their development, nurses (particularly new hires) are supposed to be given support in determining which areas they would like to develop in professionally.

On the one hand, it’s great that nurses are given the autonomy to pursue their own professional development. However, nurses are extremely busy people, and with the current shortages, many are overworked beyond any reasonable measure; they simply don’t have the time or energy to actively seek out professional development relevant to their interests or needs, assuming they're even aware of what those needs might be. Given the current culture, the reality is that for many nurses fulfilling their CDP requirements becomes a menial, even trivial chore, precisely because they’re not given the individualised support and resources they desperately need.

Although nurses are ultimately responsible for their CDPs, offering them scaffolding, guidance (in the form of ongoing feedback on their strengths and weaknesses) as well as relevant development opportunities is crucial in retaining them and building a cohesive and effective team. Remember, if you’re not helping them to realise their full potential, you’re not only short-changing the efficacy of your team and the quality of the care you can provide patients, but you very well may lose your nursing staff to a competitor who does offer better PDP opportunities.

Dedicated Professional Development Resources

Having an organised, ongoing professional development programme is critical to maintaining quality standards. As such, it is vital for employers to provide and make appropriate resources accessible for lifelong learning. This may involve hiring or outsourcing dedicated personnel responsible for meeting the professional development needs of nursing staff and the resources to support their initiatives and goals.

Healthcare organisations across the UK vary in size and ability to allocate resources toward professional development.  However, to stay competitive, let alone solvent, in today’s healthcare landscape, scaffolding individualised professional development opportunities is no longer an option but an imperative.  Truly individualised PDPs can impact an organisation’s strategic goals when it comes to ensuring staff are providing safe & effective care, as well as being an effective and happy team member.

Improved Nurse leadership Development

Leading a successful professional development initiative starts with an engaged Senior Leadership team. To develop and retain quality nurses, it’s important to have good nursing leaders and a positive culture within the organisation.

Many organisations overlook the first-line supervisor, who usually has the most interaction with nurses. To help reduce nursing turnover, however, it is imperative to also focus on senior leadership development. Better performing leaders help with staff retention.

Many nurses leave their jobs due to poor management; if nurses are not being treated fairly by their leadership team, if their individualised needs and interests are not being addressed, they will not be able or willing to work to their potential and will eventually leave to seek a more fulfilling career elsewhere.

Customised Professional Development Relevant To All Career Stages

Nursing professional development needs vary across the career lifespan. The development opportunities appropriate for onboarding new nursing talent are likely not going to be relevant or appropriate for more seasoned nurses. A one-size-fits-all approach limits an organisation’s workforce capabilities, especially when it comes to nurse satisfaction and retention.

At all phases in a nursing career, first experiences matter. If the experience or perception of the newly hired nurse is one where they feel ill-prepared or unsupported, the risk of turnover can most certainly increase.  Whereas, an onboarding experience that goes beyond the traditional one-size-fits-all model to personalise a development plan based on assessed proven competencies, skills, and personality traits is likely to increase engagement and job satisfaction.

Taking a collaborative approach can further augment an organisation’s commitment to the continual development of their workforce.  By engaging nurses in their personal and professional growth, a plan that includes the unique needs of the learner and one that is aligned to the needs of the organisation can have a positive impact on both patient outcomes and clinical workforce engagement.

The Cost of Investing in Staff Vs. Investing in Recruitment

Retaining the best nursing staff is no easy task, especially in a climate of uncertainty, financial pressure and staff shortages. However, making your nursing staff feel that they have the support of management to do the best they can and that there is recognition of that work, will go a long way toward ensuring that they stick with your organisation.

While investing in better professional development resources might seem costly, recruitment also takes time, effort and resources, and having a revolving door of talent increases the cost of recruitment exponentially. Retention starts to look a lot more appealing if you weigh the cost of recruitment against the benefits of retaining staff. Time spent training and looking after your best talent will pay you back dividends, with happier healthcare staff you’ll have happier patients, and your organisation will be all the more competitive.

If you would like specialist advice from experts in nursing recruitment, get in touch today to find out how we can help you find the right talent.





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