Nursing is experiencing a significant deficit in research capacity needed to meet future global healthcare demands—there is a call to double the number of nurses and healthcare professionals with a doctorate.Aim
The aim of this research was to evaluate the implementation of a national PhD capacity-building program for academic and practice-based nurses and other healthcare professionals in South Africa.Methods
An implementation science framework was used. Implementation of the program across two national, longitudinal cohorts of participants was studied. Evidence of enablers and barriers to implementation was obtained from multiple data sources, including the curriculum for the program, regular evaluation reports from program participants and program facilitators after each stage of the PhD curriculum delivery, and meeting notes. Supplementary sources included rates of PhD candidate recruitment, retention, and successful completion.Results
Evidence for the presence of enablers for successful implementation was found, including stakeholder consultation and buy-in, leadership, resources, staff capacity, and implementation teams. No evidence of an implementation plan, a supportive organizational culture, or effective ongoing communication at Stage 4 of the implementation process was found. Barriers to implementation included external environmental factors, resistance to change, and vested interests.Discussion
Within the context of a recognized worldwide shortage of nursing scientists, the application of an implementation science framework to evaluate the initial stages of a national PhD development program rollout provided information on how effective implementation can be strengthened and how barriers to success can be overcome.