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Measuring the Effectiveness of Nursing Education

HCPro's Advisor to the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®, October 12, 2010

Several years ago, while working in nursing professional development and education, consultant Gen Guanci, MEd, RN-BC, CCRN, realized that she was doing herself and her department a disservice by reporting "productivity" of the nursing education department. 

At the time, Guanci was working on reports based on quantitative data—the department conducted 20 classes, for example, serving 200 nurses. (She calls this concept "butts in the seat reporting.") 

What they were not doing, she explains, was demonstrating what outcomes those filled seats then led to. 

"In other words, what was different as a result of our educational activities?" says Guanci, who is now a consultant with Creative Health Care Management in Minneapolis.

She undertook the task of identifying and explaining that qualitative aspect. 

"I linked our department activities to identified desired outcomes of specific education," says Guanci. These outcomes were then linked to the organizations' goals, and even pay-for-performance initiatives. 

"Many of these are stretch goals or outcomes some educators have a hard time relating their work to," explains Guanci. 

For example, say your department holds education classes on computerized physician order entry (CPOE). One of the main reasons organizations implement CPOE is to reduce transcription errors. After your classes, the order transcription rate drops by 66%. This helps validate the critical importance of nursing professional development's role in regards to patient safety and outcomes. 

Beginnings

The reason Guanci changed her view on how to demonstrate effectiveness of nursing education comes from her previous organization's experiences on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP) journey and its pursuit of the Baldrige Award. 

"The organization I worked for at the time we implemented these concepts was [MRP] designated," says Guanci. "It's not about how many people are in the seats—it's about results." 

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