International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleThe ripple effect: personal scholarships and impact on practice development
Type of ArticleOriginal Practice Development and Research
Author/sLesley Baillie and Ruth Taylor
ReferenceVolume 5, Issue 1, Article 2
Date of PublicationMay 2015
Keywordscontinuing professional development, personal professional development, practice development, scholarship, service improvement

Background: Practice development projects are often situated within a specific context and team, while scholarship awards focus more on the personal and professional development of individuals. Personal and professional development is an important component of practice development, however, and this paper reports on a survey of nurses and midwives who had been awarded personal scholarships and examines the scholars’ perceptions of the impact on practice development. Few studies of scholarships and their impact have been published previously.


To present the outcomes of a research project that evaluated scholarships awarded to nurses and midwives, within the context of practice development

To critique the role of personal scholarships as a means to support practice development and/or service improvement

Methods: An online cross-sectional survey of nurses and midwives who had been awarded scholarships by a UK charity was conducted; 82 scholars responded, a 59% response rate. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and free text comments were analysed thematically.

Results: Scholars overwhelmingly perceived a positive impact on their personal and professional development but most also believed there had been a positive impact on patient care, safety and experience, and on colleagues and their organisation; some referred to the latter as a ‘ripple’ effect of their scholarship. An analysis of these results indicated some synergy with practice development values.

Conclusions: The award of scholarships to individuals appears to have a wider impact on scholars’ colleagues and their organisation with a resulting impact on practice development. This is important as few individuals are awarded personal scholarships. The explicit promotion of personal scholarships within a practice development framework could further develop the relationship between the two, affirming a wider impact of the awards. The sustainability of the practice changes scholars reported was outside this study’s remit but is an important issue worthy of further consideration.

Implications for practice:

    • The award of personal scholarships is perceived positively by individuals in relation to their own personal and professional development
    • The award of individual scholarships can lead to practice development or service improvement with benefits for patient care and a wider effect on the practice of both teams and organisations
    • The long-term impact of scholarships on individual recipients and on practice development would be a useful area for future research
    • There needs to be further exploration and recognition of the relationship between personal professional development and practice development – in particular, an exploration of how scholars make changes in practice could be insightful

This article by Lesley Baillie and Ruth Taylor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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