Staff development activities are normally carried out for one of these three reasons:

  • To establish competence
  • To meet new learning needs 
  • To satisfy interests that the staff may have in learning in specific areas.
If educational resources are scarce, staff desires for specific educational programmes may need to be sacrificed to fulfill competency and new learning needs. Because managers and staff may identify learning needs differently, an educational 'needs assessment' should be carried out prior to developing programmes.

Many staff development activities are generated to ensure that each level of worker is competent to perform the duties assigned to his position. Competence is defined as having the abilities to meet the requirements for a particular role. Health care organizations use many resources to determine competency. State board licensure, national certification and performance review are some of the methods used to satisfy competency requirements. Other methods are self-administered checklists, record audits and peer evaluation. Many of these methods are explained in the unit on control. It is important  for staff development purposes to remember that if competencies are found to be deficient, some staff development activity must take place to correct the deficiencies.

The other common learning need that occurs frequently in all health care organizations is the requirement of new learning to meet new technological and scientific challenges. Medical technology and science are developing rapidly, resulting in the need to learn new skills and procedures and acquire the knowledge necessary to operate complex equipment. Much of the manager's educational resources will be used to meet these new learning needs.

Many organizations implement training programmes because they are very fashionable and have been advertised and marketed well. Educational programmes are expensive and should not be undertaken unless a visible need exists. Educational resources must be justifiable. In addition to having a proper rationale for educational programmes, the use of an assessment plan will be helpful in meeting learner needs. The following plan outlines the sequence that should be used in developing an educational programme.
  1. Identify the desired knowledge or skills the staff should have and the present level of their knowledge or skills.
  2. Determine the required knowledge and skills.
  3. Determine the resources available while making the maximum use of the available resources. 


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