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A Model For Incorporating Specialist Nurse Education Into A University Context

Bruce, J. & Klopper, H. C. (2010). A Model for Incorporating Specialist Nurse Education into a University Context. Part 1: Methodological Perspectives. Health SA Geosndheid 15(1):1-6.

Bruce & Klopper (2010) article is a review of possible ways to integrate specialist nursing education in colleges with university education. They acknowledge that with recent changes in the higher education sector following amendment of legislation regulating it the future of specialist nursing education in colleges is bleak. They argue that the current legislation does not consider nursing colleges as part of the higher education and as such they see the need to incorporate them with institutions of higher learning. They argue that the transformation from college to university education in educating specialist nurses will bring some challenges. They for instance see a challenge, in terms of conflict in values espoused in traditional nursing, which they argue universities tend to contest. However, they also observe that there is need to have university education which brings an element of research, but in the same time develop ways to ensure that the traditions of this discipline are not jeopardized. Therefore, their paper was intended to ensure that in future as university takes over from college in nurses’ education, the element of specialist nurse education is incorporated into the new system. The paper sought to look at relevant concepts of this education in the context of a university institution and ways that these might be understood in order to develop an appropriate model for it integration. This particular paper describes methodology the authors used to develop their model of integration of specialist nurse education offered in colleges into the higher education sector, which is construed to mean university level.

The paper objectives were organized into two. In the first phase the authors looked at opinions of professional nurses with regard to specialist nurses in colleges as offered in the university. In the second phase the author focused on the model for integrating specialist education in university. Their study was developed based on a qualitative research model. They argued that this model was appropriate for the study because it was exploratory, contextual and descriptive. As such they assert that exploratory design of the study enabled them to collect the opinions of participants, mainly including practitioners and nurse educators, with regard to provision of specialist education in the university. This approach is mainly used for research of new phenomenon that has not been studied and because provision of courses offered in colleges at university had not been studied previously, the exploratory design was appropriate.

The study collected information through tools like focus groups, and as such the author argues that they need a descriptive study to record accurately information gathered. The contextual design limited the study to Gauteng province and within the bounders of specialist nurse education. Participants in the study were picked through purposeful sampling technique. Sampled nurse educators were organized into groups of 17 participants and nurse practitioners organized into groups of 13 participants and information collected through focus group technique. The data from the focus group was written and analyzed by being organized into themes to allow interpretations. Apart from focus group data was also gathered through individual interviews method.

The authors also describe how the second objective of model creation was attained. They arrange this into three phases of concept development, statement development and theory development. The authors used the concept synthesis strategy to develop concepts acquired through data collection. They then used the statement synthesis strategy to specify link between various concepts identified from the study. Lastly, in the theory development section, the authors used theory synthesis strategy to bring together the relational statements emerging from the statement development phase to create their proposed model for specialist nurse education. Therefore, in terms of the results, collected concepts from interviews were used to develop relational statements to pool information generated about university education in relation to practice of specialist nursing. Because the authors used a qualitative research they describe various reasons why research could have been untrustworthy and what was done to enhance trustworthiness. For instance, to enhance research trustworthiness a peer review committee examined the credibility of the study. The questionnaire used in the interview was also evaluated by independent experts in the field of qualitative research. Credibility of information given by participant was also preserved by having 7 to 4 of them check data to ensure accurate translation. The authors further, acknowledged that due to reliability on researcher and participants in making inferences, it is possible that future research might diverge rather than converge with their findings. As a result, they argue that dependability in the study was enhanced through in depth description of methods used in the research and use of independent coders to determine consistency of the coding. The other issue that the about notes as a threat to trustworthiness of qualitative research is neutrality of the researcher. In this regard they note that they attained this by having an expert look at interview transcript to ensure that there was no data distortion.

This is a very important article for practice nursing education. It is relevant in that it covers an issue that needs to be taken into consideration as education for nursing is transformed in South Africa following the enactment of 2008 Higher Education Amendment Act. It was published just two years after this amendment which highlights that information gathered through the research is of significant value in development of the nursing profession. Again, because it uses a qualitative research method the authors were able to gather opinions of large number of people. This is particularly important as the sampling method was purposeful only recruiting practitioner nurses and educators. The authors have presented the need for a model to incorporate specialist nursing education in university context, especially by citing works of other researchers who have identified criticism of nursing traditions at the university level. They have also justifiably argued for the selection of various methodologies in developing this model for instance the decision to pick a qualitative design. Though the researchers have well argued why the current study can be trusted, there is need to undertake further study. They establish quite a number of possible weaknesses with the research design that can compromise trustworthiness of their conclusion. As a result, there is need to undertake further research in order to collaborate their findings. For instance, they note that dependability of the current findings is compromised by biases of both participants and researchers.

Generally, the paper is well written with adequate information. The author have justified properly why there was need to undertake a study to develop a model for incorporating specialist nursing education in the university context. The language used is not necessary for the professional nurses, but can also be understood by the general audience. However, there are certain weaknesses in the paper design. For instance, it is not easy to locate the findings of the study. The decision to separate the model developed from the methodology was not appropriate. The authors in so doing, deny the audience from understanding their findings on how well the specialist nursing education could be integrated into the university level.

In conclusion, this paper has marked a great step in development of professional nursing. First it has demonstrated how qualitative methodology can be used to study phenomenon that have not been explored previously. Information provided in the paper can be used by students in the nursing practice to develop their own research studies and to defend the trustworthiness or credibility of their conclusions. In addition, it is the first study to explore integration the specialist nursing education as practiced in the traditional nursing colleges in South Africa, with the new system that recognize university as the only level where higher education should be offered. As such, this paper has contributed in several ways in development of the nursing profession. There is room for future research as the author has highlighted in his analysis of the flaws of qualitative research. These researches should not diverge from the present study, but rather they should to corroborate the findings of this research by using different research design and data collection techniques. Additionally, the authors of the present study have noted that one of the major weaknesses of the present study is overreliance on researcher and participants in establishing connections. This means that triangulation of research or having many researchers undertake the same research may enhance reliability of the findings.


Bruce, J. & Klopper, H. C. (2010). A Model for Incorporating Specialist Nurse Education into a University Context. Part 1: Methodological Perspectives. Health SA Geosndheid 15(1):1-6.

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