Continuing professional education: identifying the characteristics of an effective system


Dr M Nolan, Senior Lecturer in Nursing Research, Director, BASE Practice Research Unit, Health Studies Research Division, Fron Neulog Ffhddvedd Road, Bangor LL57 2EF, Wales


The need for a functioning system of continuing professional education (CPE) in nursing, midwifery and health visiting has received increased attention in recent years However, whilst the literature describes a number of benefits, detailed empirical studies have been limited There is, in particular, a dearth of information on nurses' perceptions of the important components of a CPE programme Using the results of a recent evaluation of the Welsh National Board's Framework for Continuing Education, this paper highlights a number of key issues identified by practitioners, educators and managers throughout Wales Using a structure—process-outcome model, attention is focused on the outcomes of CPE and the structure and process variables which facilitate or inhibit success The results indicate a strong commitment to the principles of CPE and identify a complex range of perceived benefits Potential barriers inhibiting both the uptake of CPE and the achievement of subsequent change are discussed and the need to create an equitable, well-resourced system is stressed