Keeping Nurses' Skills Fresh: Clinical Development Specialists

For nurses, the end of nursing school doesn’t mean they’ve learned it all.

Fairview’s team of clinical development specialists partner with nurses to continually improve their practice for a common purpose: providing you with the best, most current care possible.

“In the fast-paced world of health care, there are always new techniques, new information and new technologies,” says Deb Sonnenberg, RN, nurse clinician. “We make sure the changes get into the hands of nurses.”

What they do

As experts in clinical nursing and education methods, our clinical development team works with nurses in departments throughout Fairview hospitals. They play a vital role in the orientation of new nurses, the ongoing education of experienced nurses, and in broader education initiatives.

Nurses themselves, clinical development specialists take their passion for nursing in a new direction.

Nurses—and teachers—at heart

“As bedside nurses, a good part of our jobs is advocating for our patients,” says Jean Carraher, DNP, nursing professional practice leader. “In this role, I advocate for the nurses and make sure the right tools are there for them to provide excellent bedside care.”

Ensuring that nurses are truly learning drives the team. It’s a passion that often grew early in their own nursing careers.

“My most enjoyable shifts as a nurse were when someone’s eyes would light up as they were learning things I was showing them,” says Ben Millmann, RN, clinical learning specialist. “That spark led me to this role.”

To provide nurses with the best training in the demanding setting of a hospital, knowing what to share isn’t enough. For this team, how they share the information is just as important.

The method matters

Whether it’s improving quality of care, passing along the latest clinical discoveries or training on new equipment, the team creates teaching materials and delivers them in the most engaging way possible. Knowing each employee’s unique learning style is key.

“We think of the best, most efficient way to train nurses so they can keep their focus on patients,” says Rosa Hess, RN, clinical development specialist. “It’s not just creating a PowerPoint. It’s thinking about what each of our nurses needs from us in order to do their jobs better.”

Empowering others to make a difference for you

When the clinical development team sees nurses succeed, it’s more than a goal that’s reached—it’s a joy that’s shared.

“My favorite thing is to be able to congratulate a nurse the day they finish orientation,” says Cathy McCarty, RN, clinical development specialist. “It’s not always easy for them, but when they are able to become equal partners with the rest of the team, it’s a very exciting time.”

“It’s a profound privilege,” says Nanette Vogel, RN, clinical development specialist, “to play a role in shaping the nurses who are making a difference in people’s lives.”

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