Lifelong Learning And Professional Development

The world today is changing and being affected by advances in technology, and communication, as well as changes in the political, economic, demographic, and social environment. These changes also affect the delivery of h

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In this essay, it will be discussed how lifelong learning and the ability to use evidence-based practice as a nurse is essential to develop professionally. I will be focussing on learning styles and theories that can help with lifelong learning. Likewise, I will discuss the importance of developing emotional intelligence as a student nurse. Additionally, I will be addressing the concern of the ability to use evidence-based practice is to enable my professional development as a nurse.

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RCN (2016) states that lifelong learning can be defined as continually learning throughout our career and personal lives. What I understand by this definition is that there is always new information being discovered every day and it is essential to keep broadening our knowledge and keep up to date with further said information as nurses, NMC (2015). As policies and regulations are continually changing, it is vital to keep up with these constant changes in society as student and registered nurses. Lifelong learning is important because errors in medication are still happening, Treiber & Jones (2018). Furthermore, The Code (NMC 2015) states as part of nurses’ revalidation, nurses must record reflections of work in practice; nurses must write five reflective accounts, reflect on practice-based practice and feedback, and engage in reflective discussions and activities with colleagues. Although, RCN (2016) also discussed reflection helps nurses to think about, plan and deliver a higher quality of care and safe care to patients/clients. However, Laal & Laal (2012) states there are many barriers to lifelong learning as individuals may lack motivation and time for continuing learning or may not have learning opportunities readily available for them. Nonetheless, I believe that most barriers can be overcome, and lifelong learning can be achieved.

Lifelong learning will help me develop emotional intelligence as a student nurse. Developing emotional intelligence is very important to me. According to Codier & Codier (2017), poor communication makes up most medical errors across nursing and other healthcare disciplines. However, Karimi et al (2014) state that nurses must be able to control and manage their emotions to communicate empathetic concerns with their patients. Furthermore, Cohen- Katz (2016) mentions a nurses’ development of emotional intelligence enables better care for patients. Emotional intelligence can also improve individuals performance, interpersonal relationships and team functions, Codier & Codier (2017). Fernandez (2012) discusses emotional intelligence as ‘the capacity of the individual to monitor their own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information as a guide to their thinking’. From my understanding of emotional intelligence, it is a constant lifelong learning skill for nurses and is a skill I will continue to develop throughout my career. Cohen Katz (2016) defines emotional intelligence into three key factors which are: allowing time for reflection, and looking after yourself mentally and physically, improve communication and conflict resolution skills, and allowing yourself to admit your own mistakes, and request help when needed. From my understanding of emotional intelligence, it is essential to maintain and develop this skill throughout my lifelong learning. Also, acknowledge as nurses it is essential not to become too resilient as being a nurse requires showing empathy when reasoning and engaging with patients and families, Henry (2017). It would be difficult to become fully resilient as it is natural to act on emotions which why lifelong learning is significant to me as a student nurse, to effectively develop these skills.

Lifelong learning can be achieved through different learning theories. Pritchard (2013) discusses that learning theories such as behaviourism, the social learning theory and social constructivism enable individuals learning. For this essay, I will only be focussing on the social learning theory as it is the most beneficial to me as a student nurse than other learning theories. Bandura (1977) developed the social learning theory and believes that individuals learned by observing the behaviour of others and imitating that behaviour, especially those of importance to individuals such as parent and teachers. The social learning theory is relevant to me as a student nurse as I will be observing my mentor in practice. By observing my mentor and of those who have importance to me for my clinical learning in practice, I will complete tasks and care to patients in a similar way to what I have observed. However, I believe  there are some limitations to Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory. As Ion et al (2017) state that student nurses and midwives may encounter poor practice and care while on practice placement and, I may imitate poor practice and acquire bad habits. To overcome this, I would follow the whistle-blowing policy as governed by the NMC, NMC whistle-blowing policy (2013). Furthermore, I would seek support from my link and personal lecturers at university if I feel vulnerable during any stage in practice placement.

Lifelong learning can be benefited by using different approaches to learning styles. Anderson (2016) states that there are different models of learning styles that have been developed by theorists such as Kolbs’ Learning Cycle, VARK and Felder- Silverman Learning Style model. However, for this essay, I will be focussing on the Honey and Mumford model as it has the most relevant to me as a student nurse. According to Honey and Mumford (1992), there are four learning style preferences: reflector, activist, pragmatist and theorist, Rassool & Rawaf (2008). When I completed the questionnaire and founded that my best learning style method is reflector style, this means that I learn best by observing others and take time my time to learn, Rassool & Rawaf (2008). This means as a student nurse I can prepare better and more effectively for essay writing and taking down notes from my mentor when I observe her in practice. However, this may inhibit me as a student nurse as I may need to think and act fast in particular circumstances and without being able to observe, reflect and take the time think, I may not act well in emergencies. However, I believe there are limitations to Honey and Mumford model. Astin et al (2006) state an individual can have at least two preferred learning methods.

Similarly, Miah and Newton (2017) stated that people might not fit into one category of one learning style. I believe I can fit into all the category of Honey and Mumford’s learning style methods. Furthermore, I believe as a student nurse it is essential to optimise learning by experimenting with the learning style that would work best at the present situation. Stirling (2017) suggests that optimal learning occurs when there is some amount of tension in the learning environment so that learners feel challenged when their learning. I believe as a student nurse, adapting to my learning style would be very beneficial when I am in lectures, but in contrast, when I am learning how to carry out procedures. Additionally, I will also have to be motivated to deliver the best care and be confident in my abilities to meet these challenges through evidence-based practice (Noble & Barrett, 2017). Although I am a reflector, I must demonstrate reflective abilities, in adherence to The Code (NMC, 2015) that governs me to reflect on feedback to enhance my practise and performance.

Another learning style which can help with lifelong learning is the VARK model, which was developed by Flemming in 1995. AlKhaswneh (2013) states there are four different learning styles: visual, auditory, reading and kinesthetic. I believe as a student nurse; it is useful to make use o8f all the learning styles in the model, mainly because my percentage encountered all the four learning methods. Fundamentally, I believe kinaesthetic style most applies to me as a student nurse as I will be learning in practice. Although all learning styles will be utilised in different aspects of my theoretical and practical learning, for example, I will use the visual and auditory learning style as I will be observing and listening to my mentor at placement. Nonetheless, I think that the kinesthetic learning style will be the most valuable overall, Khanal et al (2014).

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Rycrofft-Malone et al (2004) state that nurses are encouraged to use evidence in their practice, but generally evidence is interpreted as ‘research’. Research can be defined by the exploration into a subject or theory to find new ideas or to develop knowledge and methods, Pooler (2014). Research is essential to me as a student nurse because there may be further information that can help improve services. This is especially important to support the care given to an ever-diversifying range of patient needs. (Noble & Barrett, 2017). Engaging in research to help practice and reflection, facilitates the commitments and culture of lifelong learning in nursing (Bindon, 2017).  Adam & Drake (2006) states that evidence-based practice is vital to making good decisions as a nurse and ensures patients are receiving good quality of care. As being a first-year student nurse, I believe it is important to keep reading and observe my mentor at practice. Furthermore, keep up to date with NMC, RCN and NHS news, policies and regulations.  Additionally, useful reflection on own practice serves as a self-improvement tool to encourage professional growth and potentially improves patient outcomes. (NHS, 2016; Johnson et al., 2014).As the student is ultimately responsible for their learning, it is essential that they form a relationship with mentors and communicate individual learning needs so that the mentor can adequately support their mentee’s needs and facilitate their learning. (Vinales, 2015). (Johnson et al., 2014) also states that continuous collaborative continuous collaborative reflection, evaluation and appraisals enhances individual professional development, empowers the learner by boosting their confidence and has the potential to improve patient outcomes.

As a student nurse even though I feel I should be knowledgeable about some medications, others may feel it not necessary for student nurses to know in-depth information. Similarly, Achterberg, Schoonhoven & Grol (2008) studied the implementation of evidence and research in practice and found that although many nurses carry out research, they do not always effectively use evidence-based practice. Nonetheless, as a student nurse, I feel more encouraged to learn to research more about factual whether it concerns medication handling or personal care. I believe it is essential to put patients at the centre care which will help develop professionally as a nurse.

In conclusion, I believe that lifelong learning is essential for me and other nurses’ professional development.  Policies, regulations, procedures and medicine are continually changing therefore as nurses we need to keep up to date with knowledge and new, said information. Furthermore, I feel that developing my emotional intelligence and resilience will also be essential for my lifelong learning. Additionally, I feel that the social learning theory will be useful throughout my career as I will always be around other healthcare professionals observing and learning. I also believe this social learning theory is best for nurses professional development. In relations to learning styles, I believe that it is not advantageous to only use one learning style as all styles will be valuable in practice. To conclude, both evidence-based practice and research are fundamental to my professional development as a student nurse so in order to enable the health and safety of patients. Nevertheless, as a student nurse, patients will feel like they are getting the best care if I am knowledgeable about their personal care and can explain why I am doing something a certain way.


  • Pritchard, A. (2013;2014;). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom (3rd;Third; ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. doi:10.4324/9781315852089
  • Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. London (etc.);Englewood Cliffs;: Prentice-Hall.
  • Ion, R., Smith, K., & Dickens, G. (2017). Nursing and midwifery students’ encounters with poor clinical practice: A systematic review. Nurse Education in Practice, 23, 67-75. doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2017.02.010
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  • Stirling, B. V. (2017). Results of a study assessing teaching methods of faculty after measuring student learning style preference. Nurse Education Today, 55, 107-111. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2017.05.012
  • Bindon, S. L. (2017). Professional development strategies to enhance nurses’ knowledge and maintain safe practice. AORN Journal, 106(2), 99-110. doi:10.1016/j.aorn.2017.06.0
  • Astin, F., Closs, S. J., & Hughes, N. (2006). The self-reported learning style preferences of female macmillan clinical nurse specialists. Nurse Education Today, 26(6), 475-483. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2005.12.007
  • Khanal, M. K., Dhungana, R. R., Bhandari, P., Gurung, Y., & Paudel, K. N. (2017). Prevalence, associated factors, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension: Findings from a cross sectional study conducted as a part of a community based intervention trial in surkhet, mid-western region of nepal. PloS One, 12(10), e0185806. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0185806


ealth care services as well as changing of patient’s expectation toward health care system. Traditional task- orientated, routine and habitual nursing management style is no longer able to meet the ever changing health care system. Therefore, it is crucial for present health care worker especially Assistant Medical Officers (AMO’s) to integrate leadership in health care management to meet the needs of contemporary professional practice and consumers’ requirements and expectations (Sofarelli & Brown, 1998). The changing of mindset from bureaucratic management to effective leadership becomes more popular and acceptable in the health care system in Malaysia.

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I am Assistant Medical Officer (AMO’s) who is currently working in Out Patient Department in one of the government hospitals in the central region of Malaysia. My department caters to about thousand patients daily. Patients come to the department with several problems. Therefore it is essential for all staff especially AMO’s should endeavor to equip themselves with current knowledge and skills.

I was appointed by my Head of Department to become a committee member in the training as well as an instructor at my department level. My task is to train and facilitate my department’s staff to update and upgrade their knowledge and skills. As an Instructor, I have to facilitate personnel and professional development that encourage reflections, identifying gaps in knowledge and skills also providing structured feedback to enable the all staff more so newly posted staff develop and expand their practice safely and confidently to improve standard of care. Instructors also do play role of leaders by generating student motivation and providing support, and influence staff by using their practice area as practical arena conducive to learning objective. By effectively managing this aspect of a classroom’s culture, it can increase both student and teacher motivation and indirectly impact learning gains. According to Orton (1981), the role of ward manager is not only do they have control of management of the area, but also serve as role model for nursing practice. The leadership style and personality of the ward manager are important determinants of an effective learning environment.

In this paper I will explore the leadership theories and management in which influence staff toward lifelong learning and their own professional development and I also shall use these ideas into my clinical practice. I shall also draw conclusions and recommendations for future practice.

Marquis and Huston (2003) stated leadership is a process of empowering belief, moving, persuading and influencing others toward a goal mostly without any force or threat. Leadership also can define as an interactive process directed toward mutual goal achievements between leader and followers. Leadership emphasizes goal achievement and change, occurs in any setting and is not tied to a specific organization (Manfredi, 1994). Meanwhile, McNay (1998) offers a triangular model of leadership, consisting of three elements; inspiration, organizations and education. Leadership based on education to change the way people think where it will be creating dynamic environment and culture for learning. These situations encourage and foster lifelong learning and own professional development.

Management is defined as the action to plan, organize, direct and control staff (Marriner-Tomey, 1996). Whereas, Quinn (2000) stated that management is essence of rationality. Managers plan, organize, and solve problems. Managers have been described as those people in organizations who honor stability and control, they tend to be task-oriented and are comfortable with that which is rational, quantitative and logical (Rodriguez 1995). Managers often possess positions of authority with the legitimate source of power that accompanies the position through which they delegate and control situations and outcomes (Kouzes & Posner 1987). They are often concerned with short-term goals and objectives and spend much of their time controlling situations by interpreting and enforcing policy and procedures and maintaining the structure of the hierarchical rule of the organization. Concern for the people they manage tends to become subordinated to organizational goals (Covey 1992).

Managers use and hold the power and authority to organize, delegate and control situation through the position justify by the organization. Managers are more task-oriented. They work on assigned goal, control, enforce and maintain policy and procedure through hierarchical rule of the organization (Sofarelli & Brown, 1998). There are differential between leadership and management. Management is about “doing things right”. This contrasts markedly with leadership: effective leaders produce “constructive or adaptive change to help people and firms to grow, they establish direction, align people and motivate them­ Leadership is about “doing the right thing”.

Leaders are open for change, value and concern about people in their group; whereas managers focus at obtaining the best beneficial outcome for the organization (Sofarelli & Brown, 1998). Managers ensure goal achieve efficiently, leaders focus on the effectiveness of the process and the impact on participants (Marriner-Tomey, 1996; Spitzer- Lehmann, 1994).

Burns (1978) stated there are two types of leaders in management. The traditional manager, concerned with day-to-day operations, was termed a transactional leader, the manager on the other hand, who is committed, has a vision, and able to empower others with vision wad termed a transformational leader.

Transformational leadership is a style which is ideally suited to the present climate of change because it actively embraces and encourages innovation and change. A transformational nursing leader will provide the skill for the profession to stretch its boundaries and innovative in the way in which problem are viewed and solve.

Transformational leader are able to create synergistic environments that enhance change. Change occurs because the transformational leader’s futuristic focus values creativity and innovation. The transformational leader also values organization culture and values strongly, perpetuating these same values and behavior in their staff (Wolf, Boland & Aukerman, 1994).

As changing in Medical Science concept, approach, practice and trend due to advances in technology and communication, a transformational leader’s futuristic focus or visionary leadership is important for my clinical practice.

Tyrrell (1994) identifies “visioning” as a mark of the transformational leader, stating that “nurses at all levels are expected to demonstrate leadership in setting direction for nursing practice, and that visionary leadership allows nurses to create a picture of an ideal future.

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In sharing this vision, the transformational leader empowers staff to find common ground and a sense of connection. Leaders empower and influence their followers to achieve a goal by communication through open discussion and negotiation without using any power and authority. Transformational leadership is an empowering leadership style and one which is highly suited to the profession of nursing, characterized as it is as being caring and highly ethical (Biordi, 1993).

In the other perspective, Heinzen et al. (1996) describe vision as a personal attribute, and all agree that in order to align the followers and the organization with their vision the leader must possess powerful communication skills. Meanwhile, according to Grohar (1992) to be good leader a person must have basic understanding of communication process which consists of a sender a message and receiver.

Every staff must be motivated for lifelong Learning and own profesional development. According to Cohen (2004) leadership is the best tactic that one can use to motivate others and renew interest in others in attaining goals that are for the good for all. The leaders must have to provide staff development programmed and in service training to keep the staff advance information. For example, staff can go for conference, seminars, courses or continuing education programmed in ethic, which can provide the AMO’s to clarify their legal rights and responsibilities. As discussed in Quinn (1998), continues professional development is a process of lifelong learning aim at meeting client needs and improving health outcomes by systematic improvement and the increase of knowledge, upgrading skills to more advance.

Since an instructor is a role model, it is important for the instructor to be accepted and trusted by the people whom he trains. Skills of persuading and to influence others are important in order to gain confidence and to become to follows. Bennis (1990), state trust is essential in the transformational process. Organizations cannot empower without trust and it is essential that if employees are to align themselves with the goal of the organization that they have built a trusting relationship with leader in order to share the vision. The important to be trusted and accepted by staff and student is to get cooperation. Bass (1998) has defined leadership as terms of specific trait of personality, a set of behaviors, a differentiated role, as the exercise of influence or persuasion, as the art of inducing compliance or getting cooperation, as the emerging effects of interaction (process), as a power relationship, or as a combination of elements.


The World of Medical Science is keep changing, the technology and the evolution of disease pattern, occurrence and distribution constrain present healthcare workers especially AMO’s to update and upgrade their knowledge and skill simultaneously with changing of current concept and practice. Therefore lifelong learning and own professional development is essential.

The Transformational Leadership is the style of leadership that is best suited to the present climate of change, not least because it actively embraces and encourages innovation and change. To change the situation is not an easy job. The leader must quench the remnants of historical influences and balance the complex issues of revenues and profit with the delicate issues of human relation with focus on staffs need and patient care (Dixon 1999). Therefore, the leader is suggested to apply transformational leadership style to manage the complexities of the current health service, they must also foster key competencies and pursue training and development to enhance effective transformational leadership performance. Transformational leader must be motivated, visionary, balanced, self-aware and confident of breaking existing professional boundaries to develop a multidisciplinary team approach to patient care.

In the other perspective, this paper has discussed the need of motivation among staffs, is an aspect in leadership management. Leadership is the ability to influence other to perform and work toward the achievement of a goal. The transformational leader strives to empower others and to motivate followers by articulating his vision and behaving as agent of change. Transformational leadership can be anyone in the organization, regardless of the position held. The function of management is the skills of director of the practice setting to facilitate the mission, goals and work of organization.

In the other perspective, a good leader always motivate his staffs how to delegate his work to the subordinates during his absence in order the organization can function well and smoothly. Hasten and Washburn (1994) define delegation as transferring to a competent individual authority to perform a selected in selected situation. Delegation is high level implementation skills to delegate they must be aware of the client’s need. As a leader, he must be honest for himself and others in whatever situation. The main purpose of delegation is promoting motivation and job enrichment and the personal growth for staff as well as for professional growth of the manager.

Every new staff must be motivated for life learning and own professional development. The leaders must provide staff development programs and in service training to keep a continuous professional development.


For the recommendation I will suggests that every staffs working in healthcare services must be motivated to upgrade skill, knowledge and developed self leadership and move from rigid hierarchical structure and role, as well as changing in current practice due to advances in technology and communication. The leader must emphasize to the subordinates on how to achieve quality of care and provide health care to patient through one seamless s to go care that continuity of care. Effective communication between leaders, subordinates and student, will bring success to organization in the aspect of health care delivering systems. Therefore student and staff must actively involves in continuous medical education for competency, skills and knowledge. The last and not least the leader must encourage his staff to go for continuous development programs and inculcate lifelong learning culture.


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