Nurses' and managers' perceptions of continuing professional development for older and younger nurses: A focus group study

I.A. Pool, R.F. Poell, O. Ten Cate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
Continuing professional development of nurses is increasingly necessary to keep abreast of rapid changes in nursing care. Concurrently, the nursing workforce is growing older. Therefore, future strategies for continuing professional development should be directed at both younger and older nurses. Although there is some evidence that various personal, organisational and social factors result in lower participation of older workers in development activities, age-related differences in continuing professional development among nurses remain under-explored.
Objective
This study explored nurses’ and their managers’ perceptions of the differences in continuing professional development between younger and older nurses.
Design
A qualitative study using focus groups. The interviews were analysed using a thematic analysis strategy.
Settings
A large academic hospital in the Netherlands.
Participants
22 nurses in three age groups (20–34 years, 35–49 years and 50–65 years) and 10 nurse managers participated in four focus groups.
Results
Six themes regarding differences in continuing professional development for younger and older nurses emerged from the data: (1) level of focus, (2) creating possibilities to leave the bedside, (3) ambitious young nurses, (4) same resources, different requirements, (5) ceiling in courses for older nurses, and (6) social status and self esteem. Overall, participants seemed to conceptualise continuing professional development along three dimensions: purpose, level of formality of learning activities, and scope of development.
Conclusions
The findings suggest that participants perceive differences in continuing professional development between younger and older nurses. Its purpose and the contributing learning activities are considered to change during the lifespan. When developing strategies for continuing professional development, the requirements and needs of different age groups need to be taken into account. Whether the scope of professional development is confined to “keeping up to date” or used more broad, including “expansion of skills and knowledge” seems to relate more to nurses’ attitudes towards work than to their age.
Keywords: Age groups, Continuing professional development, Focus groups,
Nurses, Older nurses, Workplace learning
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-43
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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