The impact of part-time, post-registration degrees on practice
Aim. This study aimed to identify how graduates from part-time, post-registration degree courses in nursing and midwifery perceived that their practice had changed as a result of the knowledge and skills acquired on their courses.
Background. Despite increasing investment in continuing professional education and expansion of nursing roles, little work has been undertaken to assess the impact of graduates' skills on nursing care and clinical outcomes.
Method. Postal questionnaires were used to survey all graduates of post-registration Bachelor's and Master's courses in nursing and midwifery from one institution in the United Kingdom (UK) (n=60). Respondents were asked to describe how they felt their graduate skills were used in practice and if this was influenced by any factors in the workplace. Data were analysed descriptively, and by content analysis.
Findings. Forty-three of 58 graduates contacted responded (74%). The majority (33/43, 77%) of respondents felt that their graduate skills were used in practice. Although most felt that their clinical practice had changed as a result of their degree studies, no practical examples of this were given, despite specific questioning. Many examples of academic and research skills acquired on the course were cited, which raises the question of whether the degree courses provided graduates with academic rather than clinical knowledge. There was ambivalence as to their perceptions of barriers in the workplace, which may have impeded the application of knowledge acquired on the courses.
Implications. The clinical effectiveness of education initiatives depends on the learners, the course and the workplace. To maximize the benefits accruing to patients from continuing professional education and role expansion, further exploration of the contribution of higher education programmes to clinical practice is required.