A systematic review to appraise the evidence relating to the impact and effects of formal continuing professional education on professional practice

Helen Sykes, Jenny Temple


The literature relating to post-registration education showed that registered nurses demand higher education in order to keep up with pre-registrants. The systematic review of the literature also suggested that registered nurses undertake higher education for personal reward but that it may have no direct benefit to patient care. This review was undertaken as part of an MSc in Health and Social Care Education. The review included 21 papers on registered nurses who had completed individual modules and full educational pathways, but did not consider mandatory study sessions or pre-registration programmes.

Each article was critically appraised, data was extracted, tabulated, and synthesised using a narrative synthesis approach. The findings showed that diploma level students (those obtaining a qualification at an academic level equivalent to the 2nd year of a degree programme, but already professionally registered) acquired more knowledge during their studies.  They were able to transpose them into practical skills and enhance the skills required for registration; but the literature also shows that these changes could not be maintained, due to other influences. Students of Bachelors and Masters Education developed academically and professionally, and whilst these effects advance more gradually, they are apparent long-term. All registered nurses, regardless of the level of academic study, met a number of barriers to implementing newfound knowledge and skills; and managerial constraints were found to be the most prominent.

Overall findings indicate that post-registration higher education undertaken by nurses does positively influence professional practice.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v2n4p194

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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