Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice

Last month we published a book review that was based on the 2010 NPD standards.  The Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice was revised in 2016 (Harper & Maloney) and many of you have incorporated these updated standards into your practice. As you reflect on your accomplishments over the past year, a review some of the major changes with the standards that affect NPD practice might be helpful. 

Just as nursing has continued to evolve with the changing healthcare landscape, NPD roles and responsibilities have also evolved. This edition of the scope and standards emphasizes advancing the NPD specialty, with a focus on interprofessional continuing education (IPCE) and collaboration. The term “NPD practitioner” is the encompassing term that describes a registered nurse who influences professional role competence and professional growth of learners in a variety of settings. The revised standards differentiate two levels of competencies practiced by NPD generalists and NPD specialists, respectively, which is consistent with the American Nurses Association (ANA) standards of practice for nursing. The NPD generalist is a bachelors-prepared nurse with or without NPD certification OR a graduate-level prepared nurse without NPD certification. An NPD specialist has a graduate degree in nursing or a related field and maintains NPD certification. If the graduate degree is in a related field, the baccalaureate degree must be in nursing.

The revised standards update the 2010 systems practice model composed of inputs, throughputs, and outputs. Inputs include the NPD practitioner, who continuously conducts environmental scanning, and the learner. Throughputs occur in the context of the interprofessional practice and learning environments and include seven NPD roles and six key areas of responsibility. Areas of NPD responsibility are: 1) orientation and onboarding; 2) competency management; 3) education; 4) role development; 5) collaborative partnerships; and 6) research/evidence-based practice/quality improvement. Standards of practice serve as the core of the model, with the cogs on the central gear of the standards representing the NPD roles. Responsibilities are in a circle on the outside the cogs signifying that NPD practitioners can engage any of the roles simultaneously as they guide the learner towards the desired outcomes. Outputs include learning, change, and professional role competence and growth, which contribute to optimal care and health and ultimately the protection of the public. 

Following the ANA guidelines format, the NPD standards are divided into standards of practice and standards of professional performance. The standards of practice outline the educational planning process, including assessment of practice gaps, identification of learning needs, outcomes identification, planning, implementation, and evaluation. The 10 standards of professional performance include ethics, evaluation, evidence-based practice and research, and quality of NPD practice, leadership, collaboration, professional practice evaluation, resource utilization, and new standards on change management and mentorship/advancing the profession.

As NPD practitioners, we all need to know and adhere to the NPD standards of practice. We can use the standards of practice in a variety of ways to enhance NPD practice and advance the specialty. Harper, Maloney, and Shinners (2017) provide exemplars of how various organizations operationalized the NPD scope and standards in their settings, including developing roles of the NPD practitioner, developing a departmental purpose and goals, applying the standards to educational programs, and describing challenges identified. As you start planning for 2019, think of ways you can incorporate these standards into your setting.


Brunt, B. A., & Russell, J. (November 21, 2018). Nursing professional development (NPD)       standards. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing.

Harper, M. G., & Maloney, P. (Eds.) (2016). Nursing professional development: Scope and       standard of practice (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Association for Nursing Professional       Development.

Harper, M., Maloney, P., & Shinners, J. (2017). Looking back and looking forward through       the lens of the nursing professional development: Scope and standards of practice. Journal       for Nurses in Professional Development, 33(6), 329-332.       doi:10.1097/NND.0000000000000402

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