BACKGROUND: International organisations, e.g. WHO, stress the importance of competent registered nurses (RN) for the safety and quality of healthcare systems. Low competence among RNs has been shown to increase the morbidity and mortality of inpatients.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate self-reported competence among nursing students on the point of graduation (NSPGs), using the Nurse Professional Competence (NPC) Scale, and to relate the findings to background factors.
METHODS AND PARTICIPANTS: The NPC Scale consists of 88 items within eight competence areas (CAs) and two overarching themes. Questions about socio-economic background and perceived overall quality of the degree programme were added. In total, 1086 NSPGs (mean age, 28.1 [20-56]years, 87.3% women) from 11 universities/university colleges participated.
RESULTS: NSPGs reported significantly higher scores for Theme I "Patient-Related Nursing" than for Theme II "Organisation and Development of Nursing Care". Younger NSPGs (20-27years) reported significantly higher scores for the CAs "Medical and Technical Care" and "Documentation and Information Technology". Female NSPGs scored significantly higher for "Value-Based Nursing". Those who had taken the nursing care programme at upper secondary school before the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programme scored significantly higher on "Nursing Care", "Medical and Technical Care", "Teaching/Learning and Support", "Legislation in Nursing and Safety Planning" and on Theme I. Working extra paid hours in healthcare alongside the BSN programme contributed to significantly higher self-reported scores for four CAs and both themes. Clinical courses within the BSN programme contributed to perceived competence to a significantly higher degree than theoretical courses (93.2% vs 87.5% of NSPGs).
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION: Mean scores reported by NSPGs were highest for the four CAs connected with patient-related nursing and lowest for CAs relating to organisation and development of nursing care. We conclude that the NPC Scale can be used to identify and measure aspects of self-reported competence among NSPGs.
2016. Vol. 36, 165-171 p.
nurses' competence; professional nursing; nursing education; nursing students; graduate nurses; quality in care; safety in care; NPC scale