Advancing their knowledge and skills is important to nurses

Advancing their knowledge and skills is important to nurses, despite challenges! National research into professional development (PD) in nursing, conducted in December and January by Pollara Strategic Insights (on behalf of CNA), shows that nurses are more than eager to advance their knowledge and skills, despite barriers to access that can make doing so more difficult. The results came from an online survey of 1,387 respondents, primarily RNs, and in-depth interviews with 15 nurse leaders who have hiring authority and budgetary discretion for PD. According to Pollara vice-president Lesli Martin, “the survey responses show that professional development is an important part of a nurse’s career, and not something they are forced into.” More than three out of four respondents said they had participated in at least one PD activity in the past year. Two-thirds averaged at least three activities each year; one-third at least five. Alongside these high participation levels, just five percent of nurses chose only those activities that were mandatory. While some pursued PD to advance their careers, most did so to increase their general knowledge, follow an area of interest or acquire knowledge related to their current position. Fewer than one in four enrolled in PD activities to become certified in their area of work, increase qualifications for a new position or improve their chances of getting a promotion or raise. Nurses most often chose PD topics related to direct practice (71%), the area with the smallest gap between what is needed and what is available. Topics related to education skills and leadership were the second (47%) and third (45%) choices, respectively. Direct practice courses were the most frequent choice (84%) for nurses with fewer than eight years in nursing; education skills were the first choice (57%) for those with eight years or more. Most respondents (64%) described Canada’s PD offerings as “good” in terms of available topics, but fewer than one in five described them as “excellent.” Accessibility was the biggest barrier preventing them from pursuing PD activities — more specifically, problems of affordability, location, and time. The cost was the most frequent access barrier. Seventy percent of respondents said they had paid for PD themselves, although 60 percent said their employer had reimbursed them for at least some activities. Suggestions on how to overcome barriers related to location and time included scheduling activities when nurses are able to take them (e.g., during work hours) and providing more local and online learning options. According to Martin, many nurses are willing to take these courses on their own time and with their own money, but they do want support from their employers. HOW DO YOU WRITE AN ESSAY TO HELP

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