Continuing nursing education policy in China and its impact on health equity

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    The aim of this study was to evaluate the mandatory continuing nursing education (MCNE) policy in China and to examine whether or not the policy addresses health equity. MCNE was instituted in 1996 in China to support healthcare reform was to include producing greater equity in health-care. However, the literature increasingly reports inequity in participation in MCNE, which is likely to have had a detrimental effect on the pre-existing discrepancies of education in the nursing workforce, and thereby failing to really address health equity. Despite a growing appeal for change, there is lack of critical reflection on the issues of MCNE policy. Critical ethnography underpinned by Habermas' Communicative Action Theory and Giddens' Structuration Theory were used to guide this study. Findings are presented in four themes: (i) inaccessibility of learning programs for nurses; (ii) undervaluation of workplace-based learning; (iii) inequality of the allocation of resources; and (iv) demands for additional support in MCNE from non-tertiary hospitals. The findings strongly suggest the need for an MCNE policy review based on rational consensus with stakeholders while reflecting the principles of health equity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)208-220
    Number of pages13
    JournalNursing Inquiry
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


    • Critical theory
    • Health policy
    • Inequalities in health
    • Nurse education
    • Professional development


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