• action learning;
  • clinical leadership;
  • coaching;
  • evaluation;
  • intervention;
  • mentoring;
  • programme

Aims and objectives

To evaluate mentoring, coaching and action learning interventions used to develop nurses' and midwives' clinical leadership competencies and to describe the programme participants' experiences of the interventions.


Mentoring, coaching and action learning are effective interventions in clinical leadership development and were used in a new national clinical leadership development programme, introduced in Ireland in 2011. An evaluation of the programme focused on how participants experienced the interventions.


A qualitative design, using multiple data sources and multiple data collection methods.


Methods used to generate data on participant experiences of individual interventions included focus groups, individual interviews and nonparticipant observation. Seventy participants, including 50 programme participants and those providing the interventions, contributed to the data collection.


Mentoring, coaching and action learning were positively experienced by participants and contributed to the development of clinical leadership competencies, as attested to by the programme participants and intervention facilitators.


The use of interventions that are action-oriented and focused on service development, such as mentoring, coaching and action learning, should be supported in clinical leadership development programmes. Being quite different to short attendance courses, these interventions require longer-term commitment on the part of both individuals and their organisations.

Relevance to clinical practice

In using mentoring, coaching and action learning interventions, the focus should be on each participant's current role and everyday practice and on helping the participant to develop and demonstrate clinical leadership skills in these contexts.