|Abstract:||Health professionals work in knowledge organizations where human capital is the most important asset. The development of quality and efficiency in treatment and care depends mainly on the ability of staff to use, refine and learn new knowledge and skills. Learning in hospital settings is both formal and informal. Marsick (2006) suggests that approximately 80 percent of skills in hospital work are learned in informal, day-to-day interaction. Formal learning has been extensively studied, and there are many reports on the design and outcomes of formal continuing professional development for nurses and physicians; however, there are few studies exploring informal learning by nurses. Therefore, the present study identifies the hierarchical linear relationship among informal learning, individual and organizational variables of nurses in hospitals, to empirically demonstrate the personal and organizational factors influencing informal learning while considering the different organizational scales and cultures between hospitals and to determine the extent to which individual nurses engage in informal learning.
Regarding individual and organizational level variables, a questionnaire assessed Informal Workplace Learning Outcomes, individual level variables (Task Variety, Task Significance, Friendship with Other Nurses and Learning Motivation), and organizational level variables (Empowerment, Leadership, Perception of Team’s Support, and Openness of Team’s Communication). To collect the data for this study, approximately 2,300 nurses working at 5 medium-to-large-sized Korean hospitals with more than 250 beds were invited to complete the questionnaire survey online. Overall, 218 complete responses were analyzed using One-Way ANOVA and hierarchical linear model (HLM) analysis.
Results indicated that individual level variance accounted for 84.6% of total variance and organizational level variance accounted for 15.4% of total variance in informal learning. The effect of individual level variables (task variety, task significance, workplace friendship, and learning motivation), and organizational level variables (empowerment, perception of team's support, and openness of team's communication) about informal learning were significant. Interaction effects of task variety and empowerment, task variety and perception of team's support, task significance and perception of team's support, workplace friendship and openness of team's communication, and learning motivation and perception of team's support on informal learning were found. However, there were no significant differences in nurses’ informal learning outcomes among hospitals. Detailed results and implications of these findings, limitations, and future research suggestions are discussed.