• continuing professional education;
  • doctor–nurse relationship;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • perioperative;
  • qualitative;
  • UK

Tame S.L. (2013) The effect of continuing professional education on perioperative nurses’ relationships with medical staff: findings from a qualitative study. Journal of Advanced Nursing 69(4), 817–827. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06065.x


Aims.  To report perceived changes to UK perioperative nurses’ relationships with medical staff following periods of formal, university-based study.

Background.  Continuing professional development is considered important for nursing internationally; however, practice changes may not result following formal study. The literature did not describe perioperative nurses’ experiences of formal study, and it was believed differences may exist due to hierarchical interprofessional relationships in the operating theatre.

Design.  Descriptive, qualitative.

Methods.  Unstructured interviews (= 23) were conducted between 2006–2007 with a purposive sample of perioperative nurses who had recent experience of continuing professional education. All participants were employed by one National Health Service Trust in the North of England, UK. Audio-taped interviews were transcribed fully into the ethnograph computer-assisted qualitative data analysis programme and data coded and analysed to identify themes.

Findings.  The findings indicated that whilst continuing professional education did not have a direct impact on practice, development of increased knowledge and confidence facilitated participants’ collaboration with and questioning of medical colleagues. Such increased interprofessional collaboration was attributed to indirectly enhancing patient care.

Conclusion.  Continuing professional education appeared to lead to intrinsic changes to practitioners rather than direct behavioural change. Nurses’ increased knowledge and confidence affected the balance of power in the doctor–nurse relationship in British perioperative environments. This paper is of significance to perioperative nursing and may be transferable to other areas of care.