Perceptions of registered nurses in four state health insititutions on continuing formal education
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This study investigated registered nurses in four selected state health institutions’ perceptions with regard to continuing formal education. The relevance of continuing formal education is being emphasised globally by the increasing quest for quality assurance and quality management systems within an ethos of continuous improvement. According to Tlholoe (2006:5), it is important to be committed to continual learning, as people’s knowledge become less relevant because skills gained early in a career are insufficient to avoid costly mistakes made through ignorance. Continuing formal education in nursing is a key element to the maintenance of quality in health care delivery. The study described: • registered nurses’ views on continuing formal education • registered nurses’ perceived barriers to continuing formal education A quantitative descriptive survey design was chosen using a questionnaire for data collection. The sample consisted of 40 registered nurses working at four state health institutions in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Convenience sampling was selected to include registered nurses who were on duty on the days during which the researcher visited the health institutions to distribute the questionnaires. The questionnaire contained mainly closed-ended and a few open-ended questions. Content validity of the instrument was ensured by doing a thorough literature review before construction of items and a pretest. Reliability was established by the pretest and providing the same information to all respondents before completion of the questionnaires. The ethical considerations of informed consent, anonymity and confidentiality were adhered to and consent to conduct the study was obtained from relevant authorities. Descriptive statistics, based on calculations using the Microsoft (MS) Excel (for Windows 2000) programme, were used to summarise and describe the research results. The research results indicated that most registered nurses perceive continuing formal education as beneficial to their personal and professional growth and that it could lead towards improving the quality of patient/client care, but barriers exist which prevent or deter them from undertaking continuing formal education programmes. The main structural barriers included lack of funding and lack of coherent staff development planning and physical barriers including job and family responsibilities.