The Rhetoric and Reality of Continuing Professional Development for Critical Care Nurses: A Critical Ethnographic Perspective

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Current research and evidence into Continuing Professional Development (CPD) has mostly centred on effective delivery formats to engage consumers. The perceptions and approaches that influence an individual engaging in CPD have yet to be explored, particularly in nursing. This qualitative research grounded in critical social constructionism and critical ethnography explores the perceptions and influences for regional intensive care nurses from Victoria, Australia as they engage in CPD. Participants from three field sites participated in semi-structured interviews. Through interviews the major themes of fear and vulnerability, isolation, professional inconsistencies and a myriad of concern for the nursing profession were identified. Threaded throughout each theme was the social influence of workplace upon nurses’ perceptions and their approaches toward CPD and the sharing of acquired knowledge amongst colleagues.
    The theoretical perspective of Pierre Bourdieu have been used to explore and discuss the findings of the research through the positions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy. These two positions allow the reality and the rhetoric of mandatory CPD for Australian nurses to be revealed, as shared by the participants. Orthodoxy and heterodoxy bring to light a disconnect between the regulatory body of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMBA), and the nurses it registers. Nurses engage in CPD influenced by peers and often as a means of protection or a strategic tool to acquire and hold capital and power. The NMBA mandates CPD for knowledge growth and practice change. The findings reveal that nurses’ and the NMBA appear to be playing a game creating a state of illusio, with many nurses looking to mandatory CPD to maintain their employability rather than, public protection. This research highlights the symbolic power of CPD exposing the influences of social culture, habitus and the field in which nurses’ practice.
    Recommendations of this research suggest that the current model of CPD is fundamentally flawed. Significant changes need to be undertaken to achieve the goal of public protection through a contemporary and knowledgeable workforce.
    Date of Award12 Mar 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Victoria University

    Cite this