Nursing Research Critique

Research Critique: Continuing Education for Nurses

Research Critique: Continuing Education for Nurses

There are many degree levels of practicing nurses such as diploma, associates, and baccalaureates. According to Altmann nursing field should engage in lifelong learning process and be primarily composed of baccalaureate degree (2012). Currently only half of the nursing field have a baccalaureate degree or higher. The research article “Nurses’ attitudes toward continuing formal education: A comparison by level of education and geography” (Altmann,2012) takes a close look into nurses reasons for continuing or not continuing education and why it’s important for nurses to continue their education. The concepts of the study are nurses that continue their education level improve patient outcomes but it looks deeper into what drives the nurse to engage in education. The factors that contribute like cost, not encouraged and needed by employers, or things like career advancement, better patient care, and personal goals.

The theoretical framework for this research is the theory of planned behavior. This theory looks at the bridge between a person’s attitude and behavior. Understanding a person’s attitude can predict their behavior. Planned behavior can be described as “behavior is determined by the intentions of individuals–their explicit plans or motivations to commit a specific act” (Moss, 2008). Nurses who have positive attitudes toward furthering education will purse it and for those who have negative attitudes; what can be done to perceive a positive view. The conceptual framework was not clearly stated but the study referred back to previous studies and seems to lean more towards implicit framework.

The literature review is focused on continuing education leads to more prominent patient outcome. Many reasons for continuing education have been identified like “improved patient safety and lower rates of patient morbidity and mortality, lower levels of medication errors and procedural violations, and fewer disciplinary actions of BSNs” (Altmann,2012). With the medical field growing everyday there is an increase need for higher education. With an advanced growing field it leaves for a lifetime of learning.

A questionnaire survey was mailed to random nurses in three different states. The participants were graduates of either a diploma or associates program. There were a series of multiple choice, dichotomous, and open ended questions. There were four main research questions. The research questions were attitudes toward education, did attitudes change overtime, how do the attitudes differ from those who went back to school opposed to those who didn’t, and does geographical location make a difference. The results showed associate graduates had more of a positive attitude towards perusing higher education than the diploma graduates. The attitudes toward returning to school were not too high, there showed room for improvement and encouragement. The study revealed that there is negative feedback from faculty of the degree programs and lack of encouragement to advance education.

The study concluded that there needs to be a vast improvement on nurse’s attitudes towards furthering education. Various ways are explored by having mentor and employer support, encouragement from faculty, recognition, affordable and reimbursement options, flexible schedules and personal goals to advance in the career. These are the many things that have led to negative attitudes towards continuing education according to the questionnaire. The study did not discussed ethical issues involved in this study. However the study had no bias and

was random in the mailing surveys so one could conclude no ethical violations occurred with the participants.

To perform optimal patient care and continue to grow with the advancements in the nursing field a baccalaureate degree should be recommended. “Nurses need the scope and depth of knowledge, skill, and judgment attained through baccalaureate education in order to teach and/or to provide optimal quality care to complex patients” (Altmann, 2012). There is a large opportunity to improve the attitudes of nurses and get to the highest standards of practice with majority of the practicing nurses having baccalaureate degrees or higher.

Altmann, T. K. (2012). Nurses’ Attitudes Toward Continuing Formal Education: A Comparison by Level of Education and Geography. Nursing Education Perspectives, 33(2), 80- 84. doi: Moss. S. (2008). Theory of planned behavior. Retrieved from