Meaningful Lifelong Learning in Nursing Education: Barriers, Facilitators, and Outcomes

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 8:30 AM

Sue Coffey, PhD, RN1
Gail M. Lindsay, PhD, RN1
Charles Anyinam, RN2
Rick Vanderlee, EdD, RN3
Hilde Zitzelsberger, BScN, MSc, PhD, RN4
Leslie L. M. Graham, RN, BScN, MN5
(1)Nursing, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada
(2)Nursing, George Brown College, Toronto, ON, Canada
(3)Faculty of Applied and Professional Studies, Nipissing University, North Bay, ON, Canada
(4)Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada
(5)Faculty of Health Sciences/School of Health and Community Services, Durham College-University of Ontario, Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada

Education of nurses from one level to another is a global phenomenon that is increasing in visibility (Cook, Dover, Dickson & Engh, 2010; Cubit & Lopez, 2011; Rapley, Davidson, Nathan, & Dhaliwal, 2008). However, it is not without challenges. Within the North American context, educational innovation continues to be met with resistance. For example, some nurse educators still believe that Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) should not be able to bridge into a BScN Program, while being awarded credit for Practical Nursing courses. Nursing bridging education is often referred to disparagingly as a ‘backdoor’ route to becoming a Registered Nurse. In this sense, old politics of post-secondary education have infused the debate, with the college/university traditional divide rearing its head. This is an unsettling context within which to offer an RPN to BScN Bridging Program, prompting the need for rigorous evaluation of this type of educational offering. This presentation provides an overview of an expanded, six-partner evaluation of RPN-to-BScN bridging education in Ontario, Canada. Using a mixed-method design, student and faculty perceptions of barriers, facilitators, and outcomes of this type of educational innovation across a variety of program offerings was explored. Qualitative analysis of student perceptions of the impact of bridging education on personal and professional levels will be summarized. Quantitative analysis of student performance and behaviours will be discussed, including indicators such as transfer credit, time to program completion, attrition/retention rates, and average years out between the completion of a Practical Nursing diploma and the start of a bridging program. Academic performance of nursing bridging students compared to other nursing students and health sciences students will be described. Finally, this presentation will discuss the merits and challenges of creating meaningful lifelong learning opportunities for nurses that lead to both enhanced professional development for individual nurses and overall advancement of the nursing profession.