As the recent Nursing Professional Development Week reminded us, clinical professional development is an increasingly critical part of the healthcare workforce. For employers, it’s a powerful tool for skill development and to ensure the continued effectiveness of a clinical workforce. It can also boost job satisfaction among clinical workers, and, by extension, enhance job performance and reduce turnover.
To that end, clinical professional development “is fundamental for retention and reducing turnover,” as Edward-Elmhurst Health CFO Denise Chamberlain told HealthLeaders. “There are truly few investments we can make in our people that would not have an ROI if we do them sincerely and well. We can actually save money by investing in development.”
Because many states require nurses to take a certain amount of continuing education (CE) credits each year, many employers do offer some level of professional development to their workers. Yet these programs are too often an obligation or afterthought rather than what they should be — a focused, highly strategized system to ensure ongoing skill development, job satisfaction, and quality of culture.
For leaders that haven’t invested in a clinical professional development program, then, here are a few urgent reasons for doing so.
3 Reasons Why Clinical Professional Development Is Critical to Employers
#1: Offsetting the effects of turnover
The so-called Great Resignation has had a huge effect on staffing in the healthcare industry. Over the past couple of years, many clinical workers, and especially nurses, have chosen to leave their current jobs, or even the healthcare profession altogether. About one in five healthcare workers were estimated to have quit their jobs by the beginning of 2022, or about 20% of the overall workforce.
This means that many employers have seen the exit of a considerable amount of skilled, experienced workers. It also means there’s been an influx of new clinical workers. In addition, many of the clinical workers who have changed jobs haven’t shifted out of the clinical workforce, but just reallocated their skills.
All of this movement and turnover makes for employees who are, collectively, less trained in their current roles than they were just a few years ago. Professional development of this clinical workforce is now urgent for a number of reasons — to help ensure that every team member is operating at the top of their capacity, and to help prevent further dissatisfaction that leads to renewed turnover.
#2: Curbing burnout and boosting and job satisfaction
As healthcare journalist Deb Gordon has pointed out at Forbes, 28% of the clinical professionals who have quit their jobs since the pandemic began have done so because of burnout. A persistent challenge to the healthcare industry, burnout has become more under the spotlight than ever since Covid-19, and employers have many resources at their disposal for fighting it.
Promoting job satisfaction is one of the key ways to combat burnout and compassion fatigue — and implementing a clinical professional development program that caters to workers is a great way to get that ball rolling. In the process, organizations will also be adding a key component of a better company culture, which can further help guard against future instances of burnout and turnover.
#3: Enhancing the skills and quality of an organization’s workforce
Offering learning programs and other clinical professional development programs isn’t just good for job satisfaction and company culture. It’s also a way to expand the practical skills of an existing workforce, boosting its effectiveness in a way that can positively impact patient care. From safety standards to technological expertise, there’s no limit to new and useful skills for today’s working clinician.
In addition, many nurses and clinicians are actively working to hone their skills as a way that will let them command better jobs and higher salaries, especially since the pandemic. These are largely talented and motivated professionals, and employers that invest in worker-centered clinical professional development programs have a better chance of attracting them.
> Ready for next steps? From offering better access to CE and certifications to providing career planning programs, here’s a guide to improving your organization’s professional development program.
CareerStaff Can Help!
Clinical professional development is a necessity in today’s healthcare industry. And at CareerStaff, we’re proud to offer a full suite of healthcare workforce solutions to help support employers in their efforts to meet this important obligation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help meet your workforce and patient care goals.