This is a central introductory point for NSW health professionals to access information and resources relevant to practice development.

What is practice development?

Practice development is gaining momentum very quickly in NSW as clinicians come to appreciate the value of using a systematic approach to transforming work based cultures to deliver person-centred care that encompasses the needs of patients, families and staff. While practice development has largely been evident in nursing units it has applicability for all professions.

The definition or explanation of practice development has developed continually over the last ten years to reflect current research on the key concepts underpinning practice development work. The most current and comprehensive explanation is:

'Practice development is a continuous process of developing person-centred cultures. It is enabled by facilitators who authentically engage with individuals and teams to blend personal qualities and creative imagination with practice skills and practice wisdom. The learning that occurs brings about transformation of individual and team practices. This is sustained by embedding both processes and outcomes in corporate strategy’ - Manly, McCormack & Wilson (2008, p9)

Person-centred care incorporates the practice development principles of inclusiveness, respect for each other, valuing individual contributions and connecting.

Theoretical basis of practice development

Practice development is underpinned by critical social theory which assumes that our social structures and collective culture shape the community and society in which we exist. Within nursing and our healthcare system in general there are cultures that either “invite” or “impede” participation from health professionals and patients to discuss and, in turn, make decisions to improve patient care. Practice development methods allow all participants to have an equal opportunity to participate in meaningful conversations about practice and environment thereby understanding, challenging and changing the culture to improve patient care. Thus practitioners become active participants in knowledge generation and the continuous change process leading to embedded cultural change.

Research and evaluation of practice development

The theory and application of practice development is undergoing constant research and evaluation by clinicians and academics. A comprehensive list of useful readings about the theory and use of practice development is including at the end of this discussion on practice development.

Practice development and the work of NaMO

What is transformational practice development?

Transformational practice development methodology underpins the projects sponsored by the NSW Nursing and Midwifery Office including:

Learning more about practice development

Apart from the Ministry of Health Nursing and Midwifery Office, Australia has a growing number of practice developers and dedicated departments that are facilitating practice development work, researching concepts within practice development and evaluating the effectiveness of practice development strategies. The International Practice Development Colloquium (IPDC) is a group of practice developers who collaborate on the development of practice development theory and practice. The IPDC collaborators in Australia are:

Practice Development School is one of the most effective methods of gaining a comprehensive understanding of practice development. The Practice Development School program and resources are agreed by the members of the IPDC within a dynamic framework of constant evolution following experimentation and evaluation.

The practice development schools are conducted over five days and there are currently two Practice Development Schools offered in Australia every year. Contact one of the two IPDC sites for more information on practice development school schedules.

Practice development toolkit

Skilled facilitation is essential for effective practice development work. The EOC program conducts comprehensive facilitator workshops where nurses can gain skills in facilitation based on practice development methods.

Further reading

  1. Dewing J. (2008). Implications for nursing managers from a systematic review of Practice Development. Journal of Nursing Management 16, 134–140.
  2. Garbett, R., & McCormack, B. (2002). A concept analysis of Practice Development. Nursing Times Research 7(2), 87-100.
  3. Harvey, G., Loftus-Hills, A., Rycroft-Malone, J., Titchen, A., Kitson, A., McCormack, B., Seers, K. (2002). Getting evidence into practice: The role and function of facilitation. Journal of Advanced Nursing 37(6), 577-588.
  4. Larsen, J., Maundrill, R., Malone, J. & Mouland, L. (2005). Practice Development facilitation: an integrated strategic and clinical approach. Practice Development in Healthcare 4(3), 142-9.
  5. Manley, K., & McCormack, B. (2003). Practice Development: purpose, methodology, facilitation and evaluation. Nursing in Critical Care 8(1), 22-29.
  6. Manley, K., McCormack, B. & Wilson, V. (editors) (2008). International Practice Development in Nursing and Healthcare. Blackwell: UK.
  7. McCormack, B. & McCance, T. (2006). Development of a framework for person-centred nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 56(5), 472-9.
  8. McCormack B, Wright J, Dewar B & Ballantine K. (2007). A realistic synthesis of evidence relating to Practice Development: methodology and methods. Practice Development in Health Care 6(1), 5-24.
  9. Moss, C., Walsh, K., Jordan, Z. & Macdonald, L. (2008). The impact of Practice Development in an emergency department: a pluralistic evaluation. Practice Development in Health Care 7(2), 93-107.
  10. Pryor, J. & Buzio, A. (2010). Enhancing inpatient rehabilitation through the engagement of patients and nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing 66(5), 978–987.
  11. Solman, A. (2010). Director of nursing and midwifery leadership: informed through the lens of critical social science. Journal of Nursing Management (18), 472-476.
  12. Tranter, S., Burns, T., Dobson, S., Graf, E., Ng, W. & Martinez, Y. (2007). Practice Development in the hospital haemodialysis unit: improving calcium and phosphate management. Renal Society of Australasia Journal 3(2), 61-64.
  13. Unsworth, J. (2000). Practice Development: a concept analysis. Journal of Nursing Management 8, 317-26.​
Page Updated: Wednesday 26 July 2017
Contact page owner: Nursing and Midwifery