Learning needs for and barriers to re-entry to practice as perceived by inactive nurses in Manitoba
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This research study was designed to describe the learning needs for, and potential barriers to, re-entry to nursing practice as perceived by inactive diploma and baccalaureate prepared nurses in Manitoba. Data from the study will contribute to refresher program development. Differences in perceived needs of nurses and perceived barriers to re-entry to practice, based on demographics, will be of interest to educators as the requirement of a baccalaureate degree for entry to practice looms closer. The Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses supports the position that by the year 2000 a baccalaureate degree in nursing should be the minimum educational requirement for nurses to enter nursing practice. A literature review indicated that the majority of refresher programs were developed as a means to cope with nursing staff shortages; programs are generally content intensive; and perceived learning needs of re-entry nurses have not been assessed prior to program development. Research in continuing education for nurses indicates greater commitment and participation of learners when learner needs are assessed before and considered in program planning (Bowman, Wolkenheim, LeBeck, O'Donnell & Schneider, 1985; Chesney & Beck, 1985; Sullivan, Saver, Moyer, Hurray, & Hagues, 1991). The conceptual framework was based on concepts and principles of adult learning. The study was an approximate replication of a study done by Macdonald (1991) titled Learning Needs of Inactive Nurses in Alberta. This descriptive survey utilized a mailed questionnaire to gather data from inactive nurses in Manitoba. The questionnaire was designed to collect demographic data, data related to perceived barriers to re-entry, and personal and professional learning needs. Data analysis was done using descriptive statistics. Qualitative data were analyzed according to themes and frequency of responses. Results indicated that basic nursing knowledge and specialty areas of nursing (medical and surgical, community health, and geriatric care) stood out as of greater importance to respondents. Most felt it important to refresh specific abilities (taking a nursing history, performing physical assessment, using technical equipment and computers), to be up to date on issues and trends in nursing and health care, and to develop professional ways. It was found that these perceptions were influenced by certain demographic characteristics of the respondents. Based on findings, implications for the nursing profession, most specifically nursing education, were discussed. The major implication for nursing education is the need to consider the personal learning needs of refresher nurses, their past learning through prior learning assessment, as well as the knowledge needs required in the nursing work environment. Fewer than 50% of respondents perceived any barriers to re-entry to practice as great barriers. However, home and family responsibilities, limited job opportunities, lack of technical skills, and poor working conditions were considered to be great or slight barriers to re-entry to nursing practice by mor than two-thirds of respondents in this study.