Ready for practice: What child and family health nurses say about education

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nurse Education Today, 2015, 35 (2), pp. e67 - e72
Issue Date:
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© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Background: Australia has a well-established universal child and family health service predominately staffed by specialist/qualified child and family health nurses. Two common and interrelated concerns are the need for nurses to be ready for practice after completing a nursing education program and the means to ensure ongoing nursing competence. Objective: To investigate the readiness of CFH nurses to practise after qualification and their continuing engagement with learning. Design: The study used an interpretive descriptive approach. Setting: This paper presents data from four questions from a larger survey of child and family health nurses across Australia. Participants: 1098 child and family health nurses responded to the survey. Method: Qualitative survey responses from the four education questions were analysed using inductive thematic content analysis. Results: Five significant themes were identified: hands-on experience (student clinical practice/placement); drawing on prior experience; learning on the job; learning (learning over time); and barriers to learning. Conclusion: This paper provides insights into nurses' readiness for practice at the completion of a postgraduate child and family health nursing qualification and their maintenance of competence and specialist knowledge. It highlights: the need for clinical placement to be retained and enhanced; the significant contribution of more experienced child and family health nurses mentoring newly graduated child and family health nurses; the need for minimum education standards; the importance of reviewing education courses in relation to graduates' readiness for child and family health nursing practice; the importance of supporting ongoing professional development; and the removal of barriers to accessing education opportunities.
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