This paper is the first to explore the concept of ‘secret study’, and does this within the context of perioperative nursing practice.
Career advancement in modern times generally requires additional professional development in the form of advanced education. Too often, those who make this decision to enroll in study begin to receive negative attitudes from their peers and colleagues. As a new graduate, I have witnessed this phenomena first hand in my decision to immediately re-register for higher education. Colleagues and mentors at work question my lack of experience. Unfortunately, this trend is believed to more wide spread and perhaps contributing to the "education-practice" gap.
Formal post-registration continuing professional education (CPE) has been explored previously, however, not from the perspectives of perioperative nurses. Using a descriptive qualitative approach, interviews were conducted with 23 perioperative nurses who had recent experience of formal university-based study. Analysis of interview transcripts revealed the extent to which participants revealed their CPE lay on a continuum; some told all colleagues they were studying (‘public study’) whilst others told no-one (‘secret study’). These decisions appeared to relate to the cultural discourse of their workplace, participants' academic confidence, and potential ramifications of failure. The concept of ‘secret study’ has not previously been explored, but is of significance to both nurses and educators: further research is required to indicate transferability of these findings outside of perioperative care.
Literature review produced evidence for the following statements:
- If senior staff are committed to educational development, or themselves studying, peers are more likely to study as well
- Negative attitudes, such as jealousy and feeling threatened, from senior staff discourage colleagues to enroll in advanced education
More will follow as I expect to experience more these attitudes first hand. For those readers who have advanced education, did you experience similar attitudes. If not, how did your employer promote educational advancement?
Tame, S. (2011). Secret study: A new concept in continuing professional education. Nurse Education Today, 31(5), 482-487.