Staff development and education should be a primary focus of the administration of any healthcare facility. Staff competency directly impacts the bottom-line of business secondary to improved staff, patient, and physician satisfaction, patient safety, etc. Nursing education is changing to meet the needs of the healthcare industry. The education is instructed by nurse teachers. Academic and clinical education is a significant part of the nursing student's education. Darton College (2006) supports education as a "lifelong" process being "necessary for competent practice." Quality professional development is an essential ingredient in professional leaning activities that improve quality patient care (Saba, 2000).
Staff development educators are challenged to meet the learning needs of a variety of levels of education within clinical departments. This challenge is even greater in smaller rural community hospitals secondary to lower volumes and fewer resources to provide educational experiences for the staff. A formal learning needs assessment survey provides a means to identify the educational needs of staff members (Collins, 2004).
According to Collins (2004), "Learning should be applicable to the learner's work. Thus, it is important that the instructor know the learner's needs and design learning activities that are relevant to those needs." Using questionnaires constructed for various types of staff members within a clinical department will assess staff members' clinical, interpersonal, and social learning needs. The survey will provide an effective means of identifying staff members' learning needs. The education department at BCH distributed surveys to identify the learning needs of all staff levels within the clinical department.
BCH is a 63 bed acute care facility that provides care for a rural population of approximately 15,000 people. The average daily census is 21 patients: ages ranging from early adulthood to geriatrics. A typical census diagnosis list would reflect several medical-surgical patients with congested heart failure, COPD,