Keeping up-to-date: Professional development of the Victorian Maternal and Child Health nursing workforce
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Aims and Background The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Service is a joint State and Local government funded universal primary health care service available free to families with young children in Victoria. Nurses working in the service are based in the community and are often professionally isolated as many work in stand-alone centres. This study explored nurses’ strategies for keeping professional skills and knowledge up-to-date. Methods Questionnaires were distributed via local government to MCH nurses employed in the Victorian MCH service. The self-administered questionnaires were completed anonymously then returned in the mail. Quantitative data were analysed using the statistical software Stata and qualitative data were thematically analysed. The project had La Trobe University Faculty of Health Sciences ethics committee approval. Results The study achieved a 63% response rate. Respondents were almost exclusively female (99.7%) and the majority were over 50 years (43%) and worked part-time (59%). There was a high uptake of electronic resources for professional development (87%) and most nurses (51%) spent 1 -2 hours per week updating knowledge and skills. Nearly 95% of nurses attended team meetings regularly though fewer attended state-wide (73%) or regional (58%) meetings regularly. Time, family commitments and workload were identified as barriers to keeping up-to-date. Conclusion Despite professional isolation, MCH nurses have developed workable strategies to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date. Organisational endeavours such as team, regional and state meetings, are well utilised by this group and are important contributors to the professional development of this workforce.
14th National Nurse Education Conference 2012 'Keeping the flame alight'
Clinical Nursing: Primary (Preventative)