Learning in the workplace: The role of Nurse Managers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Health Review, 2016, 40 (3), pp. 286 - 291
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© AHHA 2016. Objective This research explores Nurse Managers' (NMs') influence on workplace learning. The facilitation of staff learning has implications for the role of NMs, who are responsible for the quality and safety of patient care. However, this aspect of their work is implicit and there is limited research in the area. Methods This paper discusses the findings from one hospital as part of a broader philosophical hermeneutic study conducted in two public hospitals over a 20-month timeframe. NMs participated in interviews, a period of observation, follow-up interviews and a focus group. Transcribed data was thematically analysed. Eraut's 'Two triangle theory of workplace learning' was used to interpret participants' accounts of how they facilitated workplace learning. Findings The analysis found that NMs worked to positively influence staff performance through learning in three domains: orientating new staff, assessing staff performance and managing underperformance. Conclusions This study purports that NMs influence workplace learning in ways that are seldom recognised. A more conscious understanding of the impact of their role can enable NMs to more purposefully influence workplace learning. Such understanding also has implications for the professional preparation of NMs for their role in the context of workplace learning, facilitating learning for change and enabling the advancement of quality and safety in healthcare. What is known about the topic? Studies exploring the influence of Nurse Managers in workplace learning have been limited to their role in the facilitation of formal learning. There is a paucity of research that examines their role in influencing informal learning. What does this paper add? The findings of this study draw on Eraut's 'Two triangle theory of workplace learning' to further define the interdependent relationship between management and educational practices. What are the implications for practitioners? NMs' awareness and deliberate use of their management role to enhance workplace learning will not only strengthen their role, but will also foster good learning environments and quality nursing services. Journal compilation
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