What is the potential of distance education for learning and practice development in critical care nursing in the South Island of New Zealand? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education in Adult Education at Massey University
This thesis explores the potential of distance approaches to teaching and learning in post registration nursing education within the context of critical care nursing practice. The thesis specifically considers the appropriateness of distance education within the population of critical care nurses in the South Island of New Zealand. The geographical distribution of critical care services and subsequent population distribution of practising critical care nurses within the South Island has resulted in a demand for post registration education from relatively small yet distinct groups of nurses spanning a substantial land area (150,461 Km2). National shortages of experienced and qualified critical care nurses, and consensus
regarding the necessity for post registration education for specialist practice have been recognised throughout the Western World (Ball 1992, Charlton, Machin and Clough 2000, Cutler 2000, Johnston 2002). Yet nurses in the South Island of New Zealand have limited provision or access to critical care education programmes (Hardcastle 2003). The thesis therefore presents a pertinent and timely exploration into the potential of distance approaches to educational provision for an area of specialist practice that is currently unable to consistently meet health care demands. The thesis uses descriptive and interpretive research (previously conducted by the author), and relevant literature in order to provide a comprehensive exploration of the study context and consider the research question. The thesis aims to enhance understanding of the specific population in terms of educational provision and demand, and the meaning of 'effective' education for critical care nursing practice. Subsequent examination of the potential of distance education within this context will more clearly indicate whether distance approaches could be compatible with concepts of effective education. The outcome of which will be useful in order to determine educational strategies that may positively influence the future of education for critical care nursing practice within the South Island of New Zealand.