Turn to educational liaisons to help meet staff nurses' educational needs

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Staff education

by Deana Kearns, RN-BC, MSN, director of clinical practice at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, NC

Providing unit-based educational resources without adding nursing professional development personnel is an ongoing challenge at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. But education is kept at the forefront despite the small size of the education department by focusing on the bedside nurse. Our professional development nurses work closely with education liaisons to train bedside staff members.

Nurses spend the majority of their time at patients’ bedsides and working with peers. They see how processes are working, determine what needs to be changed, and discover components that necessitate further education. These observations led to the creation of the education liaison role, which is filled by bedside nurses who assist peers with educational development on their units.

Select nurses for the role

We have 18 unit-based education liaisons who were selected by their managers through an interview process after showing interest in the position. They receive a pay differential and serve as members of the education council. The liaisons spend eight to 12 hours every two weeks on education and assisting peers with development on the unit.

The education council meets monthly to discuss unit-based and hospitalwide educational initiatives. This communication allows for sharing of information and resources outside of the usual unit/service line boundaries.

Train liaisons

The professional development nurses mentor the liaisons by providing guidance in professional development and educational methodologies. Initial training for the education liaisons consists of:

  • Teaching and learning styles
  • Education planning and competency validation
  • Public speaking
  • Adult learning theory

Although each liaison’s duties differ from unit to unit, all are responsible for:

  • Matching new hires with preceptors
  • Coordinating preceptor and orientee schedules and evaluations
  • Conducting unit-based skills fairs to assess annual competencies
  • Determining education needs of the unit and assisting with the development of an annual education plan

Educate staff nurses

Many of the liaisons educate their peers through presentations, posters, and inservices. The liaisons are one of the first lines of communication and one of the best ways to provide new information to staff nurses.

Communicate the benefits

Overall, the results of the education liaison role have been positive. Communication and sharing of resources between nursing units has improved, and we have also seen the enrollment of several liaisons in advanced degree programs. Our investment in developing and mentoring this group of bedside nurses will ultimately result in a new generation of nurse leaders.


Adapted from HCPro’s Advisor to the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®, May 2009, HCPro, Inc.