Motives and activities for continuing professional development: An exploration of their relationships by integrating literature and interview data

I.A. Pool, R.F. Poell, M.G.M.C. Berings, O. Ten Cate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


To effectively enhance professional development, it is important to understand the motivational factors behind nurses' engagement in particular types of learning activities. Nurses have various motives for professional development and utilise different learning activities. Not much is known about how these relate.
The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between nurses' motives and activities for continuing professional development, by examining in which types of learning activities nurses engage, with which motives, and whether certain motives are associated with certain learning activities.
A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews.
Settings and Participants
Twenty-one nurses in academic and general Dutch hospitals participated.
Interview data on nurses' learning biographies were analysed using a literature-based framework on motives and learning activities for continuing professional development. As recent classifications of nurses' motives for professional development were absent, the literature was reviewed for motives, using three databases. The interview transcripts were analysed for motives, learning activities and their relationships.
Nine motives and four categories of learning activities for continuing professional development were delineated. Increasing competence was the primary motive that stimulated nurses to engage in self-directed learning during work, and in formal learning activities. To comply with requirements, they engaged in mandatory courses. To deepen knowledge, they registered for conferences. To develop their careers, they enrolled in postgraduate education. Five other motives were not mentioned as frequently.
Specific motives were found to be related to engagement in particular learning activities. Nurses could use these findings to increase their awareness of why and how they develop professionally, and managers and human resource development professionals could develop approaches that would better suit nurses' needs.
Keywords: Continuing professional development, Motives, Motivation, Motivational orientations, Learning activities, Workplace learning, Nurses
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22–28
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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