Educational Needs Assessment sample essay
Continuing education plays an important role in the development of nursing professionals in any healthcare institution (Waddell, 1991). However, different institutions have different needs to address with respect to their nurses professional competencies (Gould et. al. , 2004). According to Billings & Rowles (2001), the primary question that institutions have to answer is what particular educational needs their nurses have that are most relevant to the working environment.
This paper seeks to determine and prioritize the needs of the Medical-Surgical/Bone Marrow Transplant Oncology Nursing Unit of Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento through the administration of a survey questionnaire to a sample of seven (7) registered nurses and a qualitative analysis of the results. Background Sutter Medical Center is a non-profit hospital that specializes in providing acute and advanced care to patients living in Sacramento and the surrounding area.
Its mission is to provide quality primary and tertiary care along with a continuum of services to meet the healthcare needs of the people throughout Northern California. During the previous year, the hospital has been able to generate 58,274 patient days spread across seven (7) hospital units with 20% of which coming from the nursing unit of interest to the study. The unit has 14 registered nurses with varying levels of proficiency and experience.
Results There were seven key questions inquired from the seven registered nurses that comprise 50% of the total unit population. Based on the analysis of the results, the particular areas where that the nurses feel should be the focus of any educational program of the institution include chemotherapy patient care, professional stress management, cardiac emergency protocols, infection control, and telemetry.
These were the post frequently mentioned topics throughout the questionnaire and thus appear to be the most important concerns according to the nurses surveyed. From the nurses’ responses, it is apparent that many of the nurses consider these subjects as underdeveloped in their professional experience and as such, they are very open to undergoing further education in order to be better equipped in the said areas.
Some of the nurses prioritized special topics on patient care due to the large number of patients undergoing chemotherapy. Others consider learning proper stress management as a priority and claim that while they are equipped with the knowledge to care effectively for patients, they often find themselves stressed out in the process and some commented to eventually being in need of care themselves because of the demands of the work environment which they believe that can handle more effectively with appropriate training.
With regard to how this new educational program should best be carried out, the nurses surveyed had varying suggestions but what was common among them is the preference of nontraditional educational programs over conventional programs such as actually going back to an institution and enrolling in a course that one has to be physically present to attend. The nurses generally preferred one of two options which are either to learn under the expertise of experienced mentors at work or to get enrolled to online learning classes at home.
These preferences underscore the stress that the nurses are already experiencing at work which leaves them with no energy left to actually pursue further studies by traveling to an institution and being physically present to attend class. Hence, some of the surveyed nurses preferred to combine work and study by undergoing active learning under mentors who are experts at particular fields.
The other half of the nurses surveyed preferred to learn through online courses that they can take at the comforts of their home and accomplish at their own pace. Common strengths cited by the nurses surveyed include the experience gained as nurses in the institution along with their strong proficiency with the use of current technology. The nurses justifiably claim that their exposure to various situations have honed their abilities in dealing with the same situations.
However, they also cite that this is not the best way to learn as it places patients at some risk when they are handling a situation with the patient for the first time. Nurses believe that their expertise in utilizing web resources would allow them to have better access to continuing education since there are many specialized nursing courses available online. Furthermore even without enrolling in online courses, the internet provides knowledge sources that the nurses can access for free.
Still, some commented on the level of reliability that these sources have. On the other hand, while the surveyed nurses claim that their experience has improved their competence, they also cite the demanding responsibilities given to them at work for their inability to pursue other educational courses in their profession. Some responded that the time that they spend between work and their families practically make up all the time that they have, and cite this fact as one of the major weaknesses in undergoing an educational program.
In analyzing the sample’s assessment of hospital management’s sensitivity to their need for more specialized education, there is a general dissatisfaction perceived based primarily in the inability of management to respond to the staffing needs of the unit. The nurses stressed that while there are some educational programs being offered by the institution, these programs simply cannot be availed of by many of the nurses because of the physical and mental pressures brought about by their workload.
One barrier to education that was highly prevalent with the sample is the lack of time due to the 5:1 nurse-to-patient ratios that the hospital has not been able to improve over the past years. Nurses need to prioritize their patients over other professional responsibilities and so continuing education takes a backseat. Some of the nurses also suggest that the hospital should give incentives to nurses who are willing to undergo additional training and education in order to motivate nurses to find the time for the task. Conclusion
There is clearly a need to effect effective educational programs for the Medical-Surgical/Bone Marrow Transplant Oncology Nursing Unit of Sutter Medical Center. The nurses surveyed all agree that an effective program will be able to provide them with much needed professional development that they can use to improve the overall quality of service that they provide for their patients. However, the barrier of a highly toxic workplace caused by understaffing need to be addressed first before any program can be implemented that can capture the interest of the unit nurses.
Thus, the top priority need of the unit involves the installation of a stress management program that would be able to help the nurses cope with their demanding responsibilities might be effective in taking out some of the pressure and allowing room for the nurses to accommodate professional training programs and academic work. A secondary need would be to address content that the nurses feel are lacking in their professional competence such as specialized subjects in chemotherapy patient care among others mentioned in the survey.
It is anticipated that based on the administration’s thrust, they will be receptive to the results of this study and conduct efforts to help their nurses find the time to develop professionally.
Billings DM, Rowles CJ. (2001). “Development of continuing nursing education offerings for the World Wide Web. ” J Contin Educ Nurs. 32(3):107-13. Gould D, Kelly D, White I, Chidgey J. (2004). “Training needs analysis. A literature review and reappraisal. ” Int J Nurs Stud. 41(5):471-86. Click here to read Waddell DL. (1991). “The effects of continuing education on nursing practice: a meta-analysis. ” J Contin Educ Nurs. (3):113-8.
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