Continuing education for primary health care nurse practitioners in Ontario, Canada.
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The Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing offers a nine-university, consortium-based primary health care nurse practitioner education program and on-line continuing education courses for primary health care nurse practitioners. Our study sought to determine the continuing education needs of primary health care nurse practitioners across Ontario, how best to meet these needs, and the barriers they face in completing continuing education. Surveys were completed by 83 (40%) of 209 learners who had participated in continuing education offered by the Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing between 2004 and 2007. While 83% (n=50) of nurse practitioners surveyed indicated that continuing education was extremely important to them, they also identified barriers to engaging in continuing education offerings including; time intensity of the courses, difficulty taking time off work, family obligations, finances and fatigue. The most common reason for withdrawal from a continuing education offering was the difficulty of balancing work and study demands. Continuing education opportunities are important to Ontario primary health care nurse practitioners, and on-line continuing education offerings have been well received, but in order to be taken up by their target audience they must be relevant, readily accessible, flexible, affordable and offered over brief, intense periods of time using technology that is easy to use and Internet sites that are easily navigated.
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