Learning transfer and transition of certified nursing assistants’ to baccalaureate nursing programs

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© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Background: Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide vital care to patients in a variety of care settings, yet little is known about their transition and transfer of learning to baccalaureate nursing education. Faculty play a key role in helping them successfully progress through their educational journey. Procedure: Using a qualitative descriptive design, semi-structured interviews of eight CNAs enrolled in U.S. schools in the south-central region of Pennsylvania were conducted. Data were analyzed using content and thematic analysis. Results: The influence of prior health care experience afforded participants confidence in their transition to BSN education, as well as accelerated learning. Three themes emerged from participant data related to transfer of learning: jumping in and demonstrating confidence from the beginning, learning from a foundation to transform my thinking from tasks to process, and merging new learning into practice. Results support that even if CNAs face varying challenges entering nursing education, most possess some clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills, as well as experience working with patients and within teams. Conclusions: All of which can influence the learning experience. Findings can help faculty identify CNAs’ strengths, which may facilitate learning transfer, foster leadership potential, and engage them in peer teaching and mentoring; ultimately positively influencing the transition to practice.


Originally published as: Elliott, B., Beck, J. A., & Buffenbarger, J. (2020). Learning transfer and transition of certified nursing assistants’ to baccalaureate nursing programs. Nursing Forum, 55(2), 197–204. https://doi.org/10.1111/nuf.12416