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Nurses’ motivations and desired learning outcomes of postgraduate critical care studies: A descriptive exploratory study

  • Elizabeth Oldland
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia. Tel.: +61 3 9244 6608
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research in the Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia
    Search for articles by this author
  • Bernice Redley
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research in the Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research in the Institute for Health Transformation - Monash Health Partnership, Monash Health, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia
    Search for articles by this author
  • Mari Botti
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research in the Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia
    Search for articles by this author
  • Alison M Hutchinson
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research in the Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research in the Institute for Health Transformation - Monash Health Partnership, Monash Health, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia
    Search for articles by this author

      Abstract

      Background

      Education guidelines and professional practice standards inform the design of postgraduate critical care nursing curricula to develop safety and quality competencies for high-quality care in complex environments. Alignment between nurses’ motivations for undertaking postgraduate critical care education, and intended course learning outcomes, may impact students’ success and satisfaction with programs.

      Objectives

      The objectives of this study were to explore nurses’ motivations and desired learning outcomes on commencement of a postgraduate critical care course and determine how these align with safety and quality professional attributes.

      Methods

      In this exploratory descriptive study, qualitative data were extracted from survey responses of four cohorts of students enrolled in a graduate certificate–level critical care course between 2013 and 2016 (N = 390, 93%), at one Australian university. Summative qualitative content analysis was used to code and quantify textual content followed by synthesis to identify themes and subthemes.

      Results

      Five themes of motivations were identified: (i) Knowledge development; (ii) Skill development, (iii) Personal outcomes, (iv) Personal professional behaviours, and (v) Interpersonal professional behaviours. Most frequently, students' motivations and desired learning outcomes included ‘Understanding’ (329 participants [84%], 652 references), ‘Development of technical skills’ (241 participants [62%], 384 references), ‘Development of confidence’ (178 participants [46%], 220 references), and ‘Career progression’ (149 participants [38%], 168 references). Less frequent were motivations related to safety and quality competencies including teamwork, communication, reflective practice, and research skills.

      Conclusion

      Findings suggest students' motivations to undertake postgraduate studies most often related to acquisition of new knowledge and technical skills. Desired skills and behaviours were consistent with many, but not all, of the key course outcomes and attributes specified by health professional education guidelines and nurses' professional practice standards. Understanding the differences between students’ motivations and desired safety- and quality-related course learning outcomes informs course orientation, teaching activities, and student support to optimise achievement of essential learning outcomes.

      Keywords

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