Knowing how to plan and provide an effective in-service training session is great.
But it’s only half the story.
What if only a handful of nurses actually attend the session?
One of the problems that clinical nurse educators face is ensuring that nurses can access the education that they design.
We know that there are numerous benefits to attending in-service education sessions.
- It enables staff to remain current;
- Staff can try out new equipment;
- In-service can enhance staff retention;
- Building staff confidence levels;
- Encourages self-directed learning;
- Career advancement opportunities;
- Read more here…
However, for nurses, attending to their patients is equally as important as attaining new knowledge and skills through educational sessions.
Nurse educators, nurse managers and ward coordinators must work together to enable their nurses to access the in-service education that is on offer.
So, how can we enable nurses to do this?
Here are 5 things that nurse managers and nurse educators can do to enable their staff to attend in-service training and education sessions.
Nominate staff to attend in-service sessions
Often staff may be unaware that particular in-service sessions could greatly benefit their clinical skills and knowledge.
To ensure that nurses are getting education that is most relevant and appropriate to them, nurse managers can nominate certain members of their team to attend an in-service.
This should be done in collaboration with the nurse educator. As the nurse educator is aware of each nurse’s education needs, they are in the perfect position to suggest which nurses would benefit most from attending a particular in-service.
Nurses should also be encouraged to nominate themselves to attend an in-service session. This can be based on the learning needs and professional goals that they have developed for themselves.
Communicating interest to managers or ward coordinators will also better enable them to find extra staff to cover over the period of the in-service.
Arrange for staff to cover those who attend an in-service
Nurses will rarely leave the ward knowing that their patients will be left alone.
So, when nurses are asked to choose between caring for their patients and attending an in-service, they will often forego the in-service.
Given this, if staff are wanting to attend an in-service, nurse managers and ward coordinators should attempt to arrange for extra staff to cover them while they are at the session.
To enable this to happen nurse educators should communicate with nurse managers and ward coordinators around the number of staff scheduled to attend a particular in-service.
Promote in-service sessions to staff as early as possible
If nurses aren’t aware of in-service sessions taking place, how can they be expected to attend?
Therefore, creating an awareness of educational sessions inside the workplace is just as important as making the education available to staff.
To alert staff of upcoming in-service sessions, the nurse educator and nurse manager should work together to ensure their team are aware.
This can be done by:
- Discussing in-service sessions with nurses in the department;
- Posting notices in the staff rooms;
- Posting notices in the hospital lifts;
- Sending group emails with in-service details and contact details of the nurse educator.
In-service should also be announced and promoted as early as possible.
This will provide adequate time to enable the nurse educators, nurse managers and ward coordinators to schedule ward cover.
Encourage staff leadership
After attending an in-service, nurses should be encouraged to share the knowledge that they learnt with their team.
On a personal level this will allow nurses to take ownership of what they have learnt and reinforce new knowledge and skills. This also gives the nurse the opportunity to develop their leadership and communication skills.
On a team level, this ensures that staff are up-to-date with the most important pieces of information.
Promote in-service as an incentive for career advancement
Attending education sessions is a great way to promote and develop a culture of learning within your team and organisation.
Displaying a commitment to training and developing your staff will encourage them to actively seek to enhance their clinical knowledge and skills which will result in a more confident, competent and motivated team.
In order for nurse managers and nurse educators to facilitate this, they should check in regularly with staff around their learning, and around how displaying a desire to enhance their knowledge could contribute towards career advancement.
With increased knowledge, staff may then be in a better position to function in multiple roles and take on more responsibility within a department.
Increasing the responsibility of staff may add to job satisfaction and raise clinical confidence levels.
We know that in-service education and training sessions have the capacity to greatly improve the quality of care that nurses provide to patients.
However, it is difficult to maintain or improve the quality of patient care if nurses are not able to attend these sessions.
We have seen that there are a number of ways that nurse managers, in collaboration with ward coordinators and educators, could better enable their team to attend in-service sessions.
The next step?
Try and implement one or several of these strategies into your workplace and watch your in-service attendance rates increase!
Once you have nurses at your in-service you must ensure the education that they are receiving enables them to improve the care that the provide to patients.
This research article reviews the literature around the most effective training approaches to be incorporated into in-service education sessions.
Further, while lectures are often seen as static and an uninteresting mode of teaching, there are a number of ways to make lecture more dynamic and effective. Read this article to find out more.