Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Nursing)

Schools and Centres

Nursing and Midwifery

First Supervisor

Professor Kylie Russell

Second Supervisor

Professor Chris Hackett


Continuous professional development (CPD) has been purported to be able to enhance and support caring nursing practice; however, the relationship has never been studied in Western Australia. CPD is used in Australia as an overarching term. It includes three types of study leave; accredited courses, training with defence force reserves, and professional development (PD). The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which a professional development program can support caring nursing practice in Western Australian (WA) hospitals.

A PD program consisting of a one-day Master Class (MC) on caring nursing practice with additional and optional on-line reflective practice journaling (RPJ) was developed, implemented and evaluated for use in Western Australia. Convenience sampling was used to invite nurses from tertiary metropolitan hospitals in WA to participate. Snowball sampling followed. MCs were delivered at five major hospitals in the greater metropolitan area. The RPJ were submitted via e-mail.

Qualitative and quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and traditional theming techniques. The study used a synergistic, dynamic approach to mixed methods combining a systemic approach. This approach uses concurrent analysis of survey qualitative and quantitative data followed by typology method using convergent analysis of survey and reflective practice journaling data (Hall & Howard, 2008).

Findings indicate that PD may be able to support caring nursing practice in WA hospitals by three means: firstly, by supporting and understanding how organisations operate within a health care system and a cultural context; secondly, by supporting ‘meaning-making’; and thirdly, by supporting ‘agency’ of nurses. Findings also indicate that some educational content and strategies may be more effective in maximising the extent to which PD can support caring nursing practice in WA hospitals.

The conclusion drawn from the findings was that PD has the capacity to support caring nursing practice in WA hospitals. The extent to which it is able to do this may be limited by cultural, organisational, nursing and personal factors beyond the reach of PD.

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