Skills competency in nurse education: nurse managers' perceptions of diploma level preparation
This paper reports on part of a national study conducted between 1994 and 1996, the overall aim of which was to examine the `fitness for purpose' of the Project 2000 nursing education reforms. The study used multiple methods of data collection, including an individual and group interview study of nurse managers (n = 132) and a national survey of Project 2000 diplomates and traditionally prepared registered nurses (n = 5417). Findings in relation to the managers' expectations and experiences of diplomates are presented. This includes views on the level of skills achievement and skills acquisition of diploma level education. The qualities of the diplomates are discussed and this includes those areas where the skills of the diplomates are felt to achieve what is required of the role. Also included is an exploration of those skills which the managers felt fell short of expectations. Managers raised the long-standing concerns of clinical skills and competencies and discussed these in relation to the changing health care environment and the relative roles of other health care workers. The conclusions highlight the need to identify what could be seen as the `core skills' required of a registered nurse and the need to explore the environment in which the diplomate takes up first appointment.