Exploring ward nurses' perceptions of continuing education in clinical settings
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BACKGROUND: Health care systems demand that nurses are flexible skilful workers who maintain currency and competency in order to deliver safe effective patient centered care. Nurses must continually build best practice into their care and acquire lifelong learning. Often this learning is acquired within the work environment and is facilitated by the clinical nurse educator. Understanding clinical nurses' values and needs of continuing education is necessary to ensure appropriate education service delivery and thus enhance patient care. OBJECTIVES: To explore clinical ward-based nurses' values and perceptions towards continuing education and what factors impact on continuing education in the ward. DESIGN: A case study approach was utilized. SETTING: A major teaching hospital in Melbourne, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: A range of clinical nursing staff (n=23). METHODS: Four focus groups and six semi-structured individual interviews were undertaken. Focus group interviews explored participants' values and perceptions on continuing education through a values clarification tool. Thematic analysis of interviews was undertaken to identify themes and cluster data. RESULTS: Three central themes: 'culture and attitudes', 'what is learning?' and 'being there-being seen', emerged reflecting staffs' values and perceptions of education and learning in the workplace. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple factors influence ward nurses' ability and motivation to incorporate lifelong learning into their practice. Despite variance in nurses' values and perceptions of CE in clinical environments, CE was perceived as important. Nurses yearned for changes to facilitate lifelong learning and cultivate a learning culture. Clinical nurse educators need to be cognizant of adult learners' characteristics such as values, beliefs, needs and potential barriers, to effectively facilitate support in a challenging and complex learning environment. Organizational support is essential so ward managers in conjunction with educational departments can promote and sustain continuing education, lifelong learning and a culture conducive to learning.
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