Training Needs Analysis (TNA): The Key to Effective Nursing Education

April 16, 2018 By Denise Turner

The following article is an example of how I conducted a training needs analysis (TNA) in my organisation.

Conducting a training needs analysis

Planning is key when conducting a training needs analysis. By answering the following questions, I was able to understand how I could effectively close a practice gap that existed amongst the staff on my ward.

Try and address the following questions:

  • What is the professional practice gap?
  • Why does this gap exist?
  • Will training close the gap?
  • What are the desired learning outcomes?
  • What training is needed to achieve these outcomes?
  • Were the outcomes achieved?

But first –

Why conduct a training needs analysis?

A training needs analysis is a great starting point when developing a staff training or education session.

A training needs analysis allows an educator to look existing haps within the current practice, and then uses this evidence to build new education around filling these gaps.

Targeted training and education adds measurable value in the workplace by enhancing your staffs’ abilities and attributes.

The ultimate goal of any nurse educator is to improve patient care and a training needs analysis is a vital tool for reaching this goal.

Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

What is a training needs analysis?

A training needs analysis is a process that reveals practice gaps that exist within an organisation and guides educators on how to effectively close these gaps. It helps to determine:

  • What is the professional practice gap and why does it exist?
  • What training is needed to close the gap?
  • The context and mode of training to be provided

Ultimately, establishing a comprehensive training needs analysis at various levels of an organisation along with delivering training programs that focus on the needs of the staff and clients will greatly contribute towards the success of training and education (Ferreira et al., 2014).

The quality of information generated from a training needs analysis within any organisation should form the back bone of an educator’s planning, execution, evaluation and assessment of a training activity (Ferreira et al., 2014).

The evaluation and assessment of training programs is key, as the constant provision of effective education should remain the focus.

Effective education can only be maintained with:

  1. Continuous evaluation that focuses on increasing value;
  2. Improving responsiveness to patients; and
  3. Improving outcomes in the areas of safety and patient-centred care

(Kitto et al., 2015).

Related: How to Perform a Needs Assessment – Guide for Nurse Educators

Training needs analysis: An example

What is the professional practice gap?

When working as a Staff Development Nurse a few years ago, I noticed that we had a steep increase in patients admitted with and treated for acute pancreatitis.

I also noticed that observational assessments were often being omitted from patients’ charts.

This trend prompted me to ask the questions:

  • Do nurses not have the time to complete certain assessments that are vital to the care of the patient?
  • Is this an area that requires further education?

Why does this gap exist and will training close it?

I started my research by having a look at the annual education planner to understand when nurses last took part in training on acute pancreatitis.

I continued my investigation by discussing this gap and the potential for training with the Clinical Nurse Specialist as she may have had a more complete understanding of the training needs of the department.

Furthermore, I engaged in informal conversations with the nurses on the ward, asking general questions around their training needs as well as specific questions related to the care of a patient with acute pancreatitis.

Through this investigation I found:

  • Nurses were keen to attend a training session that could update and enhance their knowledge around managing the care of a patient with Acute Pancreatitis
  • Nurses were rarely given the opportunity to accompany a patient that needed to have an endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) procedure
  • Patients were receiving a lower standard of care given that nurses were not performing regular observational assessments.

There was clearly a desire and a need for education on how to best care for patients with acute pancreatitis.

What are the desired learning outcomes?

Before planning the training session, I first developed three learning goals based on the investigation that I undertook.

My Learning Outcomes

Through training, I would aim to:

  1. Enhance the knowledge of nurses caring for patients with acute pancreatitis that will contribute to comprehensive, documented, observational assessments; and
  2. Provide visual stimulation and theoretical knowledge about the ERCP procedure
  3. Increase the regularity with which nurses were completing observational assessments for patients with acute pancreatitis.

What training is needed?

With the learning outcomes now defined, I then began to develop the training.

The information gathered from the training needs analysis and the outcomes defined above greatly informed the development and design of my education session.

I developed training that would provide nurses with both a theoretical and practical understanding of how to most effectively care for patients with acute pancreatitis.

I included various modes of education including a video clip that covered key theory and demonstrated how an ERCP procedure is performed.

Related: How Reliable are Online Educational Resources?

Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

Were the outcomes achieved?

Through the training, nurses’ knowledge on how to care for patients with acute pancreatitis was enhanced. Nurses also had exposure to how an ERCP procedure is performed which resulted in a better understanding of the indications and contra-indications of this procedure.

As a result, nurses started doing more observational assessments of patients with acute pancreatitis. This ultimately raised the standard of care of these patients.

Tips for conducting a successful training needs analysis

There are a number of things that nurse educators can do to ensure they optimise their training needs analysis:

  • Express a keen interest in patient care
  • Question the limitations of processes that are currently in place
  • Engage in informal discussions with staff to gain a better understanding of their individual needs and issues

Educators should also not discount their own knowledge and perception of a situation.

In many cases, it is existing knowledge that encourages educators to conduct an initial training needs analysis, which then ultimately contributes to the continuing provision of high-quality patient care and improved outcomes.


  • Ferreira, R. R., da Silva, G., Mourão, L., 2014, Training Needs Analysis at Work, Wiley Online Library, viewed 28 March 2018,
  • Oermann, M. H., Faan, A.F., 2018, Teaching in Nursing and Role of the Educator, 2nd Ed, Springer Publishing Company, New York.
  • Kitto, S. C., Goldman, J., Etchells, E., Silver, I., Peller, J., Sergeant, J., Reeves, S., Bell, M., 2015, Quality improvement, patient safety, and continuing education: a qualitative study of the current boundaries and opportunities for collaboration between these domains, Acad Med. 2015; 90:240-245.
  • Shresta, R. B., 2016, Reflecting Rapid Market Appraisal: A Practical Tool for Training Needs Analysis, Journal of Training and Development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *