June 15, 2007

Survey outlines nurses’ desire for education opportunities

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Natasha Halasa, M.D., and colleagues found that a childhood vaccine is helping prevent serious pneumococcal infections in children with sickle cell disease. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Survey outlines nurses’ desire for education opportunities

Nurses at Vanderbilt University Medical Center would like to see more continuing education opportunities dedicated to critical thinking, dealing with challenging people and situations and learning Spanish.

These were the hottest topics among those who took part in Vanderbilt's recently completed comprehensive nursing education survey.

Nearly 1,100 licensed nurses, nurse educators, managers and administrators across VUMC and its clinics participated in the survey, which yielded valuable information that will help enhance educational opportunities as early as this fall.

“We are delighted with the high level of responses and are analyzing the data to make the educational program what our nurses want it to be,” said Sandy Greeno, M.S.N., R.N., clinical nursing consultant for Nursing Education and Development at the Learning Center. “We are pleased that so many people participated from the hospitals as well as the off-site clinics. This can only make our offerings more diverse.”

Highlights of the findings include that 80 percent of respondents ranked continuing nursing education as important or very important. The survey also showed that 41 percent were satisfied with current availability of educational offerings and 52 percent were satisfied with the quality of the content of those programs.

Participants ranked a list of more than 90 topics they would like to see addressed in continuing nursing education sessions. Critical thinking, Spanish classes and dealing with challenging people and situations topped the list.

“We have uncovered a real opportunity to enhance our programs and gain greater awareness of the offerings,” said Greeno. “Even though we had more than 7,000 participants in continuing nursing education programs last year, we can do even better.”

The Nursing Education Oversight Committee, comprised of staff nurses, educators, clinical nurse specialists and nursing education and development representatives, has already started to make some changes. Planning is under way for two annual week-long conferences.

A Fall Fest is scheduled for the week of Oct. 15 and will address the most popular topic, as determined by the survey. The committee will also host a Spring Fling conference in March with a diseased-based focus including pharmacology. Both events will include experts from within Vanderbilt as well as national speakers.

Additionally, the committee will enhance the nursing education section of the Medical Center's nursing Web site to better promote various continuing nursing education offerings. The group is looking closely at the preferred mode of learning as well. Survey results show that 45 percent wanted face-to-face and hands-on experience; 33 percent wanted face-to-face only; and 21 percent wanted training available online.

“We have a good program, but we want to make it better meet the needs of the nurses,” said Greeno. “We want to thank everyone who participated and let them know that their feedback is shaping the future of continuing nursing education.”