Continuing professional development in nursing
Thesis (MPhil (Curriculum Studies))--Stellenbosch University, 2006.
The problem identified by the researcher, points to the fact that professional nurses in South Africa are not aware that it is their responsibility to continue learning and to seek learning opportunities in order to address their learning needs after obtaining a basic nursing qualification. Continuing professional development (CPD) has been defined as lifelong learning that takes place in a professional career after the point of qualification and/or registration. The primary aim of continuing professional development (CPD) in nursing is improvement of patient care. CPD in nursing enables professional nurse practitioners to provide quality nursing care and service delivery to their patients and clients. The purpose of this research was to assess the need for continuing professional development for professional nurses in order to develop criteria that would assist with the provision of these programmes. The objectives of this research were to: assess whether professional nurses are aware of their responsibility to continue their education beyond their initial pre-service training; assess the extent to which professional nurses participate in continuing educational activities; ascertain whether professional nurses support the introduction of mandatory continuing professional development; and determine the barriers to participation in continuing professional development. A survey, as a quantitative research design, was used in this research to collect the data from a sample of professional nurses working at two public hospitals in the Western Cape Province. A random sampling technique was used to select one hundred professional nurses from a population of professional nurses that was dispersed over a wide geographical area. This design enabled the researcher to use a questionnaire in order to obtain the information needed for this research from the participants. The researcher also conducted semi-structured interviews, which constitutes a qualitative approach to research, with ten professional nurses. The reason for using both research approaches was that the quantitative approach helped the researcher to measure the responses from the professional nurses objectively while the qualitative approach enabled the researcher to describe the professional nurses’ own experience of their CPD activities. A questionnaire, as the data collection instrument, was informed by the literature review. It enabled the researcher to obtain the information from the sample of professional nurses. The data collected included the demographic information of the sample, the nurses’ participation in formal education, non-formal education and in-service education as well as the reasons for and the barriers to participating in these programmes and their views about mandatory continuing professional development. The questionnaire was selfadministered and anonymous. The data obtained from the questionnaires and interviews was analysed with the use of the Statistica program and a hand calculator. The process of triangulation was used in this research to assess the reliability and the validity of the research process. The findings of this research indicated that the professional nurses included in this research are aware that they have a responsibility to continue their education beyond their initial pre-service training. Although these nurses are therefore aware that they have to continue learning and that they have a responsibility to pursue lifelong learning, and even though there are a significant number of professional nurses who have already participated in CPD activities there are also a significant number of professional nurses who have not yet participated in the CPD activities. Financial and accommodation constraints, family responsibility, lack of advanced notification and staff shortages have been identified as the barriers to CPD participation. The researcher has identified that the professional nurse is in need of CPD. The findings have indicated that the nurses in the sample do not support mandatory continuing professional development but have indicated that they will use all formal and non-formal learning opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills. According to the literature review, various authors have stressed that the concept of adult learning should be incorporated in the provisions of the CPD programmes for nurses, including the criteria on which these programmes should be based. Teaching and learning strategies are to be employed that would ensure that nurses have the skills to learn and relearn as knowledge develops. This will enable nurses to develop the skills that are necessary for lifelong learning. Innovative strategies also referred to as self-directed approaches to learning, such as problem-based learning, group discussions or projects and learning contracts that will promote the development of lifelong learning skills. CPD activities in nursing include formal, non-formal and in-formal learning opportunities. Based on the literature review and the findings, the researcher recommends that all professional nurses be granted the opportunity to attend a formal course to help them to obtain a post-basic nursing qualification and that all professional nurses further be encouraged to attend the hospital’s in-service education programmes and workshops provided by the professional nursing societies. The findings indicated that the sample professional nurses believed it is the individual professional nurse’s responsibility to identify and evaluate his or her own learning needs and be accountable for ensuring that those needs are met. Failure on the part of professional nurses to accept that the responsibility to learn continually is theirs could result in the inadequate delivery of nursing care.