Degree Name

Master of Education (Hons.)


Faculty of Education


The present study is an investigation of current approaches to the education of nurses. It is an examination of the influences the transfer of nurse education from the hospital to the tertiary system has had on nurses and nurse education. It investigates the extent to which the shift in nurse education has overcome many of the inadequacies perceived in the apprenticeship system of training. An analysis of selected historical sources identified how various groups of stakeholders have influenced and continue to influence the knowledge and positioning of registered nurses. Registered nurses were also interviewed in order to determine how they perceive themselves to be positioned and how they position themselves. Some of the tensions experienced by nurses are attributed to the conflicting demands placed upon them. The psychology of learning and adult learning theory have also been analysed in order to understand the significance of the shift away from learning within a framework which encouraged learning through direct observation and experience. The nature of "experience" as explained through relevant learning theories and as described by registered nurses has been explored in order to understand how the nurse is positioned during learning and performance by themselves and others. Despite the transfer of education to the tertiary sector a gap between what is taught to nurses and what is required of the nurse in the hospital still exists. The education of nurses in the tertiary sector whilst offering nurses an education rather than a training for service prepares nurses for a system that remains essentially unchanged. Whilst the move to tertiary institutions was reflective of ideas encapsulated in theories of adult learning, the conclusions drawn in this study suggest that implementation within the university learning environment is not in accord with adult learning theory; and that the hospital system does not operate in a manner that is reflective of the autonomy or caring implied by adult learning theory and professionalisation.