Perspectives on age and continuing professional development for nurses: A literature review

I.A. Pool, R.F. Poell, T.J. Ten Cate

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The need for nurses to participate in continuing professional development (CPD) is growing to keep abreast of rapid changes in nursing care. Concurrently, the nursing workforce is growing older. Ageing leads to changes in biological, psychological, and social functioning. Little is known about the effects of age-related changes on nurses’ CPD. A literature review was conducted to examine whether and how CPD differs across age groups. A framework with five perspectives on age was used in an attempt to distinguish factors contributing to these age differences. Given the limited research on this topic with respect to nurses, we also included studies of workers in general. The literature search revealed 27 relevant studies. In general, older workers appeared less likely to participate in CPD, when considering formal learning activities and late-career workers (older than 50/55 years). We found no clear age patterns for motivation to participate in CPD, for learning outcomes, and for participation in informal and non-formal learning activities. The study showed that more nuanced results are found when studies distinguish at least three age groups. By using different perspectives of age, a comprehensive overview of age-related factors in CPD was generated and gaps in current research were identified. Recommendations for further research are discussed, such as the need for research on whether the types of learning activities that nurses undertake change with ageing.
Keywords: Continuing professional development, Age differences, Nurses, Older workers, Workplace learning, Literature review
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-321
JournalVocations and Learning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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