Persephone Munnings, MSN, RN-BC, CM is Manager of the Continuing Nursing Education Department at Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas, as well as Adjunct Nursing Faculty at the University of The Bahamas.
As a little girl growing up on the rural island of Mayaguana in The Bahamas, I observed the nurse as she delivered quality care to the residents throughout the island. Her skill and high level of professionalism fascinated me. I dreamed of one day being a nurse just like her and upon graduating from high school, I entered the nursing program at The College of The Bahamas.
I graduated with an Associate’s Degree from a rigorous nursing program and as a graduate nurse experienced a lack of mentorship with one of my clinical assignments. This moved me to mentor all nursing students who rotated through my ward. Working with the students ignited my passion for education and I returned to college to pursue a BSN which would qualify me for a faculty position at the local school of nursing.
Three years after obtaining my BSN degree, I began searching for a new assignment, a new job, a new challenge, a new level of fulfilment, something new. This search landed me in a meeting with the Principal Nursing Officer and a temporary deployment to the Continuing Nursing Education Department. It turned out that this assignment was my best one ever. In fact, it was the start of my journey to NPD certification. Up to this point I didn’t know much about continuing nursing education; so, I took to the internet seeking to augment the principles I had learned in the teaching and learning course in the BSN program. My research led me to the National Nursing Staff Development Organization’s (NNSDO) website which was a great resource. Further search led to a book by Barbara Brunt called Competencies for Staff Educators. This book became my go-to resource for my work within the department.
The NNSDO later became the Association for Nursing Professional Development. After following ANPD for a few years and realizing that the organization catered to the needs of nurses in staff development, I became a member in July 2015. Immediately I began accessing recorded webinars and registering for the upcoming sessions. Two months later, The Princess Margaret Hospital saw its first NPD Week celebrations in September 2015. The week of activities included an opening ceremony, NPD display within the hospital, a church service, a seminar for NPD staff, and a nurturing day for nurses with outstanding participation in continuing nursing education. We even submitted our decorated board to the ANPD decorated space contest; we did not win, but we participated.
By July 2016, I was on my way to my first ANPD convention. The theme for the convention was “Aspire to Inspire.” There were so many workshops that I wanted to attend but they ran concurrently. After much deliberation, I registered for the NPD Certification Prep Course. Was I ready to sit for the certification exam? Of course not! My goal was to attend the 2-day course to gain more insight into the role of the NPD practitioner, particularly the leadership role.
The Certification Prep Course, which was facilitated by the energetic, humorous, and engaging Mr. Gregory Durkin, was much more than certification prep. Participants shared work-related experiences and best practices, and Greg shared success tips and resources for successful management of NPD. By the end of day one, a Facebook page had been created for participants to stay connected and support each other in the quest to become certified. By the closing of day two I felt ready to begin studying for the NPD certification exam; instead I returned home and completed an application to test.
The entire convention exceeded my expectations. Speakers were inspiring; the session on the revised scope and standards of the NPD practitioner was very informative; the poster display was clearly the largest I had seen and covered a variety of themes from orientation and onboarding, to mentorship, to use of technology, to bridging generational gaps, to interprofessional education. I attended every networking session, purchased resources, and interacted with as many vendors as time allowed. One of the main highlights for me was mingling with the authors of the bookLeadership in Nursing Professional Development: An Organizational and System Focus. I felt proud to be a member of ANPD.
Post-convention, I returned home inspired and with a new zest to inspire other continuing education staff members in my organization. We again celebrated NPD Week and agreed to make it an annual event. I shared my convention experience with staff members of my team and added my collection of new ANPD publications to our library of resources. I knew more than ever that I was a specialist, that not anyone could do what I did. I felt a need to validate my role and bring awareness to the value of nursing professional development to the organization.
On October 24th 2016, I passed the NPD Certification exam. I shared the good news with my fellow workshop participants. Oh, I had to tell my colleagues, Greg, and Mary, and anyone else who cared to listen. To my knowledge, I was the first person in The Bahamas to achieve NPD Certification. What an accomplishment! Of course, when I shared the news at home the popular response was: “Congratulations, what does that mean and what is NPD?” I had to educate my colleagues about my specialty. I realized that I had to prepare an elevator speech on the role of the NPD practitioner.
Today, I am proud to be a certified Nursing Professional Development Practitioner. I value my specialty because my Master’s Degree in nursing education focused more on the roles and responsibilities of the educator in an academic setting. The NPD specialty has a unique scope of practice different from that of the academic educator and requires unique competencies. Through achieving certification, a nursing professional demonstrates that he/she has achieved advanced knowledge and skills in a chosen specialty and is dedicated to improving patient outcomes. I am committed to advocating for the NPD specialty in The Bahamas, and as far as my influence reaches. I aspire to enhance my ability to articulate the value of NPD as a specialty and, as a nurse leader, use my expertise to enhance nursing practice and, ultimately, better patient outcomes.
I am grateful for the vision of the pioneers of ANPD. The current leaders inspire me; they are talented, committed, reachable and approachable. Dr. Mary Harper, Director of Nursing Professional Development, is but an instant message away. The resources and networking opportunities available through the ANPD website are limitless. The publications are specific to the needs of NPD professionals. It is my hope to one day serve on one of the ANPD committees. Who knows, one day a Certification Prep Course or even the ANPD Annual Convention could be held in the beautiful Bahamas.