Document Type

DNP Project


School of Nursing

Date of Degree

Spring 2018


Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Primary Advisor

Laurie Posey, EdD; Karen J. Whitt, PhD, AGN-BC, FNP-C


Background: Continuing education (CE) is an essential component of building and maintaining the competence and performance of health professionals. Evidence of its impact on practice is lacking. Organizations need evidence of CE transfer to the practice setting to demonstrate its value and inform CE practice.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to provide evidence of CE’s impact on practice by analyzing nurses’ reports of intent to change practice, actual practice change, and examples of practice change. Research assessing the effects of CE on nursing practice across multiple courses involving different topics, levels of nursing practice and location supports generalizability. The analysis of the nurses’ practice change examples provides a deeper understanding of the outcomes and factors affecting CE transfer.

Methods: This retrospective, mixed-methods study analyzed nurses’ quantitative and qualitative survey responses, both end-of-course and in a longitudinal evaluation. Descriptive and inferential statistics were generated on the intent and actual practice change responses. Thematic content analysis was conducted on the examples of practice change and respective barriers.

Results: Most participants reported positive intent to change practice (88.6%) and actual practice change (89.1%) following the CE courses. The actual practice change examples revealed four common themes including becoming certified, improved leadership, enhanced role performance, and educating or mentoring others. In some cases, these practice changes led to improvements at the organizational level.

Conclusions: The results of this study provide evidence that knowledge gained from CE can positively impact nursing practice, and that CE-related practice changes by nurses can lead to broader organizational improvements.

Open Access




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