Research focuses on new graduate registered nurse skills

8 May 2018

Research focuses on new graduate registered nurse skills

A collaborative research project has explored the perceptions of registered nurses  towards the clinical skills of Northland-based nursing graduates, and will help further develop undergraduate nurse education in the region.

The NorthTec research project, carried out in conjunction with the Northland District Health Board, found that the majority of new graduate registered nurses entered the workforce as safe, competent practitioners who were also well equipped with general skills such as communication.

The research was carried out online, with 64 registered nurses from a variety of healthcare settings in Northland responding. These included nurses working for GP practices and iwi providers, as well as community-based nurses and those based in the region’s hospitals.

The research, An exploratory study of the perceptions of registered nurses towards the work-readiness of new graduate registered nurses, was carried out by Norma Scobie, NorthTec Principal Lecturer Nursing, Dr Bev MacKay, NorthTec’s Head of Nursing, and Margareth Broodkoorn, Northland DHB’s Director of Nursing and Midwifery.

It looked at perceptions of registered nurses around the cognitive, technical and non-technical skill sets of new registered nurse graduates when they entered the workforce. Skill groupings were: routine assessment; basic clinical skills; advanced clinical skills, medication administration, emergency procedures, communication, preparedness for practice and coping with the work environment.

New graduates were not rated as highly for advanced technical skills, this is to be expected as many of these were setting specific and should be taught within the workplace in the first year of practice.

Dr MacKay said: “The overall findings were that we prepare new graduate nurses well and they are safe, competent practitioners when they start work. We found that they rate higher in soft skills like communication, and that more advanced technical skills were not rated so highly or were non-applicable to the healthcare setting they are working in. This is consistent with other literature on the subject.”

She said the study’s findings would be used to further develop the undergraduate nurse education curriculum at NorthTec. It would also inform actions across the region, to ensure a shared understanding in the workforce of what should be expected of a new nurse graduate, especially with regard to technical skills.

Dr MacKay said: “We cannot teach all skills that all nurses will need, as we need to prepare generalist nurses who can work in any clinical setting. We will be working closely with nurse leaders, employers and registered nurses across Northland to implement the recommendations from this research.”

Margareth Broodkoorn said: “This study provides a context by which we can understand what the expectations of the registered nurse workforce are of new graduates. It gives us an understanding that some of those expectations may be a bit higher than graduates can be expected to deliver on. We can use this to work with our preceptors and look at what we most need to focus on with new graduate nurses.”

Dr MacKay presented the results of the study at the 17th National Nurse Education Conference, held in Melbourne earlier this month.

At the same conference, colleague Jeanette Briscoe, NorthTec Senior Nursing Lecturer, gave a presentation on supporting Māori new graduate registered nurses into employment, while Zoe Williamson, another NorthTec Senior Nursing Lecturer, presented a poster outlining an additional collaborative project with the Northland DHB on promoting the use of a documentation framework in medical nurses’ practice.

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