Practice Development in Nursing

What is Practice Development (PD)?

  • PD is a continuous process of developing person-centred cultures.
  • The learning that occurs, brings about transformations of both at the individual and team level and not just at the wider organisational level.
  • This is sustained by transforming the contexts and cultures in which nursing takes place.
  • Provides a systematic approach of effective and sustained changes in practice.
  • Continuous PD approach is required to effect change.
  • When applied, PD effects are both relevant to staff and patients.


“Practice development is a continuous process of improvement towards increased effectiveness in person centred care, through the enabling of nurses and healthcare teams to transform the culture and context of care. It is enabled and supported by facilitators committed to a systematic, rigorous continuous process of emancipatory change.” (McCormack et al., 1999. pg. 256).

What is PD about?

“Transformational culture” and quality becomes everyone’s business.

  • Moving from person-centred moments to person-centred care.
  • Improves patient care.
  • Changes culture of care (engagement, autonomy and connected).
  • Translating research into practice (evidence based care).
  • Continuous improvement and systematic changes.
  • Valued competencies.
  • Evidence based practice and knowledge translation.
  • Promotes and facilitates change.
  • Well-being for staff and patients- the organisation hold the same process for both.
  • Allow people to flourish and grow.
  • Provides audit and quality measures.

3 E’s

  • Empowerment
  • Engagement
  • Emancipation


  • Enables nurses and the healthcare team to transform culture and care.
  • Increased staff satisfaction.
  • Increased staff retention and recruitment.
  • Builds culture and shared values.
  • Develop skills and knowledge of staff.
  • Team engagement.
  • Delivers person centred care.

Practice Development and the Workplace

The practice development approach, links clinician-led innovation to the context of the workplace. The organisation (local and wider) may adopt this approach as a means to quality improvement of ‘practices’ which will lead to the development and implementation of evidence-based practice policies and influence strategic vision.

It also offers clinicians the opportunity to critically evaluate and evolve their workplace practices and their practice culture while taking into account the organisational context of their work. Practice development has strong links with methods of workplace learning and communities of practice theories.


Emancipation, transformation, culture, change process, engagement, PD.


2013 International Nursing Research Congress (Prague) Keynote Speaker – Brendan McCormack


McCormack, B., Manley, K, & Garbett, R. (2008). Practice Development in Nursing.

McCormack, B., Henderson, E., Wilson, V., & Wright, J. (2009). Making practice visible: the workplace culture critical analysis tool (WCCAT). Practice Development in Health Care, 8(1), 28-43.

McCormack, B., Manley, K., Kitson, A., Titchen, A., & Harvey, G. (1999). Towards practice development–a vision in reality or a reality without vision?. Journal of Nursing Management, 7(5), 255-264.

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.

McCance, T., McCormack, B., Dewing, J., (May 31, 2011) “An Exploration of Person-Centredness in PracticeOJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 16, No. 2, Manuscript 1.

Nursing Education Network. (2017). Developing person-centred care: addressing contextual challenges through practice development.

Nursing Education Network. (2018). Person-Centred Care Practice Development in Dementia.