How do registered nurses learn about practice? A qualitative study

Thomas, Megan Patricia Louise (2011). How do registered nurses learn about practice? A qualitative study. EdD thesis The Open University.



Lifelong learning is strongly encouraged within healthcare, through government and professional initiatives. The emphasis of this learning is to positively influence practice thereby enhancing the patient experience and patient care. However, within these initiatives there is little consideration of the impact of this lifelong learning on the individual, nor their ability to engage with it.

This study employed a hermeneutic approach which explored the feelings, perceptions and experiences of a group of registered nurses relating to their learning about practice. The study provides insight into how nurses view themselves professionally and academically.

Data were collected in three ways. Demographic data was collected to situate the sample group. Written and verbal data were collected through the use of meta-planned focus groups (Davies et al 2001). Linguistic metaphor analysis was carried out on the written and verbal data which was coded, categorized and organised into themes.

The study revealed a number of attributes in relation to learning about practice. Whilst many participants were intrinsically motivated to develop new skills and ways of working, they were also extrinsically motivated through the relationships they had with colleagues. It was recognised that a supportive environment and collaborative partnership led to a successful learning experience. However, whilst many of the participants recognised their own need to develop skills of assertiveness, they identified that professional inequalities and the inappropriate use of power within their relationship with colleagues adversely affected their learning.

The findings from the study resulted in the development of a model of support for learning in practice. This is based on the individual nature of learning, the social environment of learning and cultural aspects of learning. These three areas encompassed the feelings, perceptions and experiences of registered nurses related to their learning about practice.

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