BACKGROUND : The global shortage of nursing professionals educated at baccalaureate level and beyond has been
highlighted. WithinAmerica, services are preparing to treat an additional 32million individuals under theHealth
ReformBill.Within South Africa nursing education outputs do not meet demands. Countries are addressing these
shortages by developing advanced nurse roles which require research degrees.
OBJECTIVE : To evaluate a national PhD programmewithin the context of a nurse education strategy and a national
health insurance plan.
DESIGN : A comparative effectiveness research design was employed.
SETTING : The setting was in South Africa between 2011 and 2013, a county with 51.7 million inhabitants.
PARTICIPANTS : Participants included PhD candidates, programme facilitators, supervisors and key stakeholders.
METHODS : Data from a one day workshop was analysed using an inductive thematic analysis. Three years of
evaluation reports were analysed. A mapping of the alignment of the PhD topics with healthcare priorities, and
a comparison of the development of nurse education, of the national and international funder were conducted.
RESULTS : The evaluation reports rated the programme highly. Three themes were identified from the workshop.
These were, “support” with the sub-themes of burden, leveraging and a physical supportive place; “planning”
with the sub-themes of the national context and practice, and “quality” with the sub-themes of processes and
monitoring and evaluation. The mapping of PhD topics revealed that research was in line with development
priorities. However, further investment and infrastructural changes were necessary to sustain the programme
and its impact.
CONCLUSIONS : To address sustainability and capacity in nations scaling up nurse education and healthcare
insurance, it was recommended that top-up degrees for diploma educated nurses be developed along with,
the implementation of a national nursing strategy for PhD and post-doctoral training encompassing clinical
practice implementation and collaboration.