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    An international exploration of blended learning use in pre-registration nursing and midwifery education

    Janes, Gillian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1609-5898, Ekpenyong, Mandu ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3778-645X, Mbeah-Bankas, Henrietta and Serrant, Laura (2023) An international exploration of blended learning use in pre-registration nursing and midwifery education. Nurse Education in Practice, 66. p. 103514. ISSN 1471-5953

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    Aim To explore international experiences of using blended learning in preparing nursing and midwifery students for initial professional registration to inform future education policy. Background The global nursing and midwifery skills shortage and need for an expanded nursing workforce that is fit for contemporary care delivery is widely acknowledged. The immense pressure the profession was already under because of austerity, staff shortages and increasingly complex healthcare needs has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK is extending and evaluating the use of blended learning programmes for pre-registration nursing and midwifery students to help address these issues. This study sought to explore relevant nursing and midwifery experiences from outside the UK to help inform future health professional education policy here and elsewhere. Design Cross-sectional, sequential, mixed methods study Participants/settings Nursing/nurse education leaders from across International Council of Nurses regions Methods Exploratory online survey (n = 32) and three follow-up case studies (March-May 2021). Participants’ knowledge and experiences of blended learning were examined along with any perceived benefits for workforce development and successful strategies for addressing the challenges blended learning presents in this context. Case studies were developed inductively from survey responses and follow up telephone calls to provide more detailed information about reported successes. Results Participants reported flexibility, cost effectiveness, increased student/tutor and student/student communication and interaction as benefits of blended learning. Challenges included the design and use of interactive learning resources, appropriate preparation and support for staff and students, the potential of blended learning to exacerbate otherwise hidden disadvantage and the need for multi-stakeholder cost/benefit evaluation. Conclusions Blended learning is used globally in the pre-registration education of nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals. These results broadly mirror the literature regarding the benefits blended learning offers healthcare students, staff and organisations and the strategies employed to mitigate risk. As the deployment of blended learning nursing and midwifery programmes expands, further work is needed to address gaps in the current evidence base regarding the practice and impact of this approach. These concern adequate preparation and support of students and staff, ensuring access to appropriate equipment and connectivity, exploration of student perceptions that online learning is of lesser value and comprehensive multi-stakeholder, exploratory evaluation to uncover any hidden factors and impact.

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