Shaping nursing praxis : some registered nurses' perceptions and beliefs of theory practice : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Administration at Massey University


This thesis investigates the beliefs and perceptions of registered nurses in relation to the theory practice gap. In order to discover these perceptions and beliefs, this qualitative study used critical ethnography, a framework and process in which the paiticipants share in the journey of discovery which sets out to explore, describe and transform these beliefs and perceptions of theory-practice. The theory-practice debate has been highlighted in nursing for some time and is interpreted in many ways. This multiple interpretation causes confusion and has an impact on the development of the discipline of nursing. The participants were six nurse clinicians and six nurse educators from a large metropolitan hospital and a School of Nursing and Midwifery within a tertiary educational institution. Within the critical framework, the research methods used were interviews, observation, paiticipants' personal logs and triangulation between methods and within methods. Data analysis was through content analysis using themes, patterns, and categories arising from the data. The analysis of data indicated that through reciprocal dialogue, the paiticipants' theory-practice perceptions and beliefs had been transformed. This transformation was being premised on an assumption of the existence of a theory-practice gap to an acceptance of the theory-practice relationship as an integrated concept where nursing praxis is shaped by an ongoing development process. Empowering strategies and recommendations for the development of nursing praxis include coaching, clinical supervision, mentoring, case management, ongoing education, research, faculty practice, joint appointments and reciprocal advisory groups. These strategies provide opportunities for nurses to come together, and reflect on practice in that by becoming aware of their beliefs and perceptions, they gain the confidence and knowledge to begin transforming conditions of power and control, thereby promoting change which results in praxis and professional autonomy

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