Giving voice to lifelong learning in professional nursing practice
Bell, Susan M.
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The purpose of this phenomenological study was to uncover the meaning of lifelong learning to nurses in an Academic Health Care setting. Six female pediatric nurses were interviewed and audiotaped in response to 2 main questions of interpretation and engagement in lifelong learning with respect to their nursing practice. Four additional probing questions elicited responses of further qualities and characteristics of the meaning of lifelong learning. The emergent themes uncovered the characteristics and nature of the journey of lifelong learning. The themes evolved into parallel characteristics developing into the concepts of personal empowerment and occupational authorship. The personal empowerment concept involved processes whereby the participants overcame or removed barriers to engage in personal lifelong learning. Participants utilized personal power and internal motivators to sustain their engagement in lifelong learning. The occupational authorship concept involved participants controlling their exploration into lifelong learning through collaboration and recognition of occupational demands to be met as a professional. The remaining themes revealed a seasoning journey. This journey entailed a process of mastery through the themes of engagement discord, discovery pilgrimage, transforming, and maturation. The engagement in this journey resulted in their lifelong learning to becoming more intuitive and a part oftheir being. The overall theme uncovered from the journeys was one of a vocation described as a call to thinking critically of nursing practice. The participants responded to lifelong learning as a call to be a good nurse by using critical thinking through reflection, transformative and constructionist learning processes. This study gave voice to the meaning of lifelong learning in their nursing practice as interpreted by -ao the nurse participants.