Effect of e-learning on nurses’ continuing professional development
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Effect of e-learning on nurses’ continuing professional development

Helen Beckett Lecturer, Child Health Nursing, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, Wales

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the role of e-learning in supporting nurses’ continuing professional development (CPD)

  • To improve your knowledge of the factors that may influence the effect of e-learning on nurses’ CPD

  • To develop approaches you can use to ensure effective engagement with e-learning

Background E-learning can provide nurses with the opportunity to undertake lifelong learning and continuing professional development (CPD) in a flexible, practical and engaging manner. However, much of the research focuses on pre-registration nursing students’ experiences of e-learning, despite nursing students not always experiencing the same clinical demands as registered nurses.

Aim To explore the concept of e-learning and nurses’ perception of its value for engaging with lifelong learning and CPD, as well as to determine attitudes towards e-learning, what influencing factors exist and how they affect the perceived value of e-learning.

Method This study used a mixed-methods sequential explanatory design, in which there were two phases of data collection and analysis. In the first phase, 39 children’s nurses completed questionnaires about e-learning and its flexibility, accessibility, value and contribution to CPD. Their responses were analysed and used to inform questions for the second phase, which involved semi-structured interviews exploring the findings and emerging themes from the completed questionnaires. Of the 39 questionnaire respondents, 12 agreed to participate in the interviews.

Findings More than half of the questionnaire respondents (n=22/39) agreed or strongly agreed that e-learning aids their CPD, while 29 respondents valued e-learning that is specific to their practice area. Three main factors were identified that may influence the effect of e-learning on nurses’ CPD: motivation to engage with CPD and e-learning; the perceived value of e-learning as a method for CPD; and challenges to effective engagement with e-learning.

Conclusion Engagement with e-learning is influenced by the content of its modules and, while mandatory training is often provided through e-learning, this should not be its sole purpose. Nurses should take the opportunity to develop and engage with e-learning that is specific to their area of practice, which may increase its value.

Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2020.e1899

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software




Conflict of interest

None declared

Beckett H (2020) Effect of e-learning on nurses’ continuing professional development. Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2020.e1899

Published online: 10 March 2020

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