Practice Development

It’s week 4 of our #ebnjc December blog series and this week we celebrate the importance of research & scholarship in nursing with guest blogs from Clare McVeigh, Professor Roger Watson, Professor Jan Dewing & Professor Elizabeth Robb.

In our #ebnjc blog series we have already celebrated children’s nursing; with blogs from Jayne Pentin, Kirsten Huby & Marcus Wootton, learning disability nursing; with blogs from Professor Ruth Northway, Jonathan Beebee & Amy Wixey and midwifery; with blogs from Louise Silverton CBE , Gina Novick & Lynsey Wilgaus

This week Clare McVeigh and Professor Roger Watson have provided blogs and today we have the pleasure of sharing Professor Jan Dewing.  


The Contribution That Practice Development Can Make To Modern Nursing.

I start by asking ‘do we need practice development when there’s so service improvement and so much talk about innovation in health care and different ways to innovate?‘ Well, I believe we do; so this blog is about why practice development has a valuable (and still hugely under estimated) contribution to make in current day nursing and other areas of healthcare.

There is no doubt, although the core values and purposes of nursing remain steadfast, that much of nursing and surrounding landscapes have been modernised. For example, how we assess the needs of people in our care, the technologies we can apply to people, how we organise the way we work, as well as how we prepare new registrants and how we learn and develop ourselves as professionals. We need to find approaches that can respect and accommodate complexity in professional practice, in healthcare systems and in peoples needs. Different organisations use different methodologies and tools for implementing continuous improvement. They usually have a name or label, such as Total Quality Management, Six Sigma or Listening into Action. Clearly, practice development has some similarities with both improvement methodologies and innovation. Most improvement methodologies, simplify and standardise interventions down to techniques and tools, make claims that they can be used by a large number of people in the organisation and yet treat many of those at the implementation and receiving end of improvements as passive recipients.

Practice developers make no such claims; practice development is complex and is not quick to introduce. It has a number of principles, nine at present, (McCormack, Manley and Titchen 2013 p1-17); that need to be translated into methods and processes (Dewing, McCormack and Titchen 2014). It needs skilled facilitation and each and every context in which development takes place will influence and in other ways act on the evidence/change in practice and interventions being worked with. Thus the notion of the great ‘roll out’ across an organisation in a short time period is therefore not possible and will not lead to the great ‘sustainability’ ideal (or myth). Further, my experience shows people can not be simply ‘trained’ to do practice development. It requires a long apprenticeship where knowledge and skills are acquired through the ‘doing’ of practice development. It really is the art of lifelong learning in action.

A number of people around the world, in nursing in particular, are dedicating serious time and energies into advancing the evidence bases underpinning practice development. Quietly working to ensure practice development does what it claims to do. Come and join us? Just take a look at the International Practice Development Journal to get a sense of what I mean CLICK HERE TO READ (and it’s free to access). Practice development is there when many improvement approaches go wrong and more than this, practice development is there for use by teams, managers, leaders and service users who believe that people are all active constructors of knowledge and practice and need to be in it together to create a future where care  and our overall practice, is more person-centred and more effective.



Dewing J McCormack B and Titchen A (2014) Practice Development Workbook for Nursing, Health and Social |Care Teams. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell.

McCormack B Manley K and Titchen A 2013 (eds)  Practice Development in Nursing and Healthcare 2nd ed. Oxford Wiley Blackwell

‘Click the link to like’ The International Practice Development Collaborative Faceboook page


Why not check out EBN’s Research Made Simple Series?

Research Made Simple: Reviewing the literature
Research Made Simple: Bias in research

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