Lifelong Learning and Evidence-based Practice in Nursing

In this essay, it will be discussed how lifelong learning and the ability to use evidence-based practice as a nurse is essential to develop professionally. I will be focussing on learning styles and theories that can help with lifelong learning. Likewise, I will discuss the importance of developing emotional intelligence as a student nurse. Additionally, I will be addressing the concern of the ability to use evidence-based practice is to enable my professional development as a nurse.

RCN (2016) states that lifelong learning can be defined as continually learning throughout our career and personal lives. What I understand by this definition is that there is always new information being discovered every day and it is essential to keep broadening our knowledge and keep up to date with further said information as nurses,


(2015). As policies and regulations are continually changing, it is vital to keep up with these constant changes in society as student and registered nurses. Lifelong learning is important because errors in medication are still happening, Treiber & Jones (2018). Furthermore, The Code (NMC 2015) states as part of nurses’ revalidation, nurses must record reflections of work in practice; nurses must write five reflective accounts, reflect on practice-based practice and feedback, and engage in reflective discussions and activities with colleagues. Although, RCN (2016) also discussed reflection helps nurses to think about, plan and deliver a higher quality of care and safe care to patients/clients. However, Laal & Laal (2012) states there are many barriers to lifelong learning as individuals may lack motivation and time for continuing learning or may not have learning opportunities readily available for them. Nonetheless, I believe that most barriers can be overcome, and lifelong learning can be achieved.

Lifelong learning will help me develop emotional intelligence as a student nurse. Developing emotional intelligence is very important to me. According to Codier & Codier (2017), poor communication makes up most medical errors across nursing and other healthcare disciplines. However, Karimi et al (2014) state that nurses must be able to control and manage their emotions to communicate empathetic concerns with their patients. Furthermore, Cohen- Katz (2016) mentions a nurses’ development of emotional intelligence enables better care for patients. Emotional intelligence can also improve individuals performance, interpersonal relationships and team functions, Codier & Codier (2017). Fernandez (2012) discusses emotional intelligence as ‘the capacity of the individual to monitor their own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information as a guide to their thinking’. From my understanding of emotional intelligence, it is a constant lifelong learning skill for nurses and is a skill I will continue to develop throughout my career. Cohen Katz (2016) defines emotional intelligence into three key factors which are: allowing time for reflection, and looking after yourself mentally and physically, improve communication and conflict resolution skills, and allowing yourself to admit your own mistakes, and request help when needed. From my understanding of emotional intelligence, it is essential to maintain and develop this skill throughout my lifelong learning. Also, acknowledge as nurses it is essential not to become too resilient as being a nurse requires showing empathy when reasoning and engaging with patients and families, Henry (2017). It would be difficult to become fully resilient as it is natural to act on emotions which why lifelong learning is significant to me as a student nurse, to effectively develop these skills.

Lifelong learning can be achieved through different learning theories. Pritchard (2013) discusses that learning theories such as behaviourism, the social learning theory and social constructivism enable individuals learning. For this essay, I will only be focussing on the social learning theory as it is the most beneficial to me as a student nurse than other learning theories. Bandura (1977) developed the social learning theory and believes that individuals learned by observing the behaviour of others and imitating that behaviour, especially those of importance to individuals such as parent and teachers. The social learning theory is relevant to me as a student nurse as I will be observing my mentor in practice. By observing my mentor and of those who have importance to me for my clinical learning in practice, I will complete tasks and care to patients in a similar way to what I have observed. However, I believe  there are some limitations to Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory. As Ion et al (2017) state that student nurses and midwives may encounter poor practice and care while on practice placement and, I may imitate poor practice and acquire bad habits. To overcome this, I would follow the whistle-blowing policy as governed by the NMC, NMC whistle-blowing policy (2013). Furthermore, I would seek support from my link and personal lecturers at university if I feel vulnerable during any stage in practice placement.

Lifelong learning can be benefited by using different approaches to learning styles. Anderson (2016) states that there are different models of learning styles that have been developed by theorists such as

Kolbs’ Learning Cycle

, VARK and Felder- Silverman Learning Style model. However, for this essay, I will be focussing on the Honey and Mumford model as it has the most relevant to me as a student nurse. According to Honey and Mumford (1992), there are four learning style preferences: reflector, activist, pragmatist and theorist, Rassool & Rawaf (2008). When I completed the questionnaire and founded that my best learning style method is reflector style, this means that I learn best by observing others and take time my time to learn, Rassool & Rawaf (2008). This means as a student nurse I can prepare better and more effectively for essay writing and taking down notes from my mentor when I observe her in practice. However, this may inhibit me as a student nurse as I may need to think and act fast in particular circumstances and without being able to observe, reflect and take the time think, I may not act well in emergencies. However, I believe there are limitations to Honey and Mumford model. Astin et al (2006) state an individual can have at least two preferred learning methods.

Similarly, Miah and Newton (2017) stated that people might not fit into one category of one learning style. I believe I can fit into all the category of Honey and Mumford’s learning style methods. Furthermore, I believe as a student nurse it is essential to optimise learning by experimenting with the learning style that would work best at the present situation. Stirling (2017) suggests that optimal learning occurs when there is some amount of tension in the learning environment so that learners feel challenged when their learning. I believe as a student nurse, adapting to my learning style would be very beneficial when I am in lectures, but in contrast, when I am learning how to carry out procedures. Additionally, I will also have to be motivated to deliver the best care and be confident in my abilities to meet these challenges through evidence-based practice (Noble & Barrett, 2017). Although I am a reflector, I must demonstrate reflective abilities, in adherence to The Code (NMC, 2015) that governs me to reflect on feedback to enhance my practise and performance.

Another learning style which can help with lifelong learning is the VARK model, which was developed by Flemming in 1995. AlKhaswneh (2013) states there are four different learning styles: visual, auditory, reading and kinesthetic. I believe as a student nurse; it is useful to make use o8f all the learning styles in the model, mainly because my percentage encountered all the four learning methods. Fundamentally, I believe kinaesthetic style most applies to me as a student nurse as I will be learning in practice. Although all learning styles will be utilised in different aspects of my theoretical and practical learning, for example, I will use the visual and auditory learning style as I will be observing and listening to my mentor at placement. Nonetheless, I think that the kinesthetic learning style will be the most valuable overall, Khanal et al (2014).

Rycrofft-Malone et al (2004) state that nurses are encouraged to use evidence in their practice, but generally evidence is interpreted as ‘research’. Research can be defined by the exploration into a subject or theory to find new ideas or to develop knowledge and methods, Pooler (2014). Research is essential to me as a student nurse because there may be further information that can help improve services. This is especially important to support the care given to an ever-diversifying range of patient needs. (Noble & Barrett, 2017). Engaging in research to help practice and reflection, facilitates the commitments and culture of lifelong learning in nursing (Bindon, 2017).  Adam & Drake (2006) states that evidence-based practice is vital to making good decisions as a nurse and ensures patients are receiving good quality of care. As being a first-year student nurse, I believe it is important to keep reading and observe my mentor at practice. Furthermore, keep up to date with NMC, RCN and NHS news, policies and regulations.  Additionally, useful reflection on own practice serves as a self-improvement tool to encourage professional growth and potentially improves patient outcomes. (NHS, 2016; Johnson et al., 2014).As the student is ultimately responsible for their learning, it is essential that they form a relationship with mentors and communicate individual learning needs so that the mentor can adequately support their mentee’s needs and facilitate their learning. (Vinales, 2015). (Johnson et al., 2014) also states that continuous collaborative continuous collaborative reflection, evaluation and appraisals enhances individual professional development, empowers the learner by boosting their confidence and has the potential to improve patient outcomes.

As a student nurse even though I feel I should be knowledgeable about some medications, others may feel it not necessary for student nurses to know in-depth information. Similarly, Achterberg, Schoonhoven & Grol (2008) studied the implementation of evidence and research in practice and found that although many nurses carry out research, they do not always effectively use evidence-based practice. Nonetheless, as a student nurse, I feel more encouraged to learn to research more about factual whether it concerns medication handling or personal care. I believe it is essential to put patients at the centre care which will help develop professionally as a nurse.

In conclusion, I believe that lifelong learning is essential for me and other nurses’ professional development.  Policies, regulations, procedures and medicine are continually changing therefore as nurses we need to keep up to date with knowledge and new, said information. Furthermore, I feel that developing my emotional intelligence and resilience will also be essential for my lifelong learning. Additionally, I feel that the social learning theory will be useful throughout my career as I will always be around other healthcare professionals observing and learning. I also believe this social learning theory is best for nurses professional development. In relations to learning styles, I believe that it is not advantageous to only use one learning style as all styles will be valuable in practice. To conclude, both evidence-based practice and research are fundamental to my professional development as a student nurse so in order to enable the health and safety of patients. Nevertheless, as a student nurse, patients will feel like they are getting the best care if I am knowledgeable about their personal care and can explain why I am doing something a certain way.


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