Economising learning: How nurses maintain competence with limited resources. A grounded theory study exploring Registered Nurses' use of mobile devices in postgraduate education
BackgroundNurses have limited time outside of work for continuing professional development. Consequently, strategies need to be explored to enable them to better maintain their competence. This article describes recent research to ascertain how nurses used mobile technologies to determine if these behaviours could be leveraged for mobile learning. It addresses a gap in the existing literature around how nurses resource their own professional development in the absence of appropriate resourcing
... opriate resourcing in the workplace.MethodsThe Theory of Economising Learning emerged from research employing a classic grounded theory methodology which was conducted with registered nurses from Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory and postgraduate nursing students at the University of Southern Queensland.ResultsThe Theory of Economising Learning describes how nurses maintain competence with limited resources. Unfavourable staffing levels and a fast-paced workplace mean that nurses rarely prioritise their professional learning while at work. Instead, it requires the nurse to contribute personal resources including time and money.Though the research revealed that nurses were unconcerned about using mobile technologies, they were concerned about maintaining competence with limited resources. To counter this, nurses economised their learning by balancing personal resources against their motivation to maintain competence. The process of economising learning begins and ends with the development of the nurse's personal curriculum in response to what they identify as being the most significant knowledge deficits at work that jeopardise their competence. A learning opportunity that addresses the knowledge deficit is sought. Nurses balance the opportunity to address the deficit against the cost of personal resources, to decide if they will engage with the opportunity and update their personal curriculum accordingly.ConclusionsIt is suggested that workplaces need to create reasonable expectations within nurses to address knowledge deficits and provide the resources, including time, to allow them to do so without personal cost. It is also necessary for workplaces to moderate the flow of learning opportunities so as not to overwhelm and demotivate the nurses. Currently, nurses use several strategies to optimise their learning using mobile technologies. These could be leveraged in the workplace to help nurses maintain professional competence.