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Competence of newly-graduated nurses – a comparison of the perceptions of qualified nurses and students


  • Anna Lofmark PhD RN,

  • Bibbi Smide PhD RN,

  • Karin Wikblad PhD RN

Anna Lofmark,
Department of Caring Sciences and Sociology,
University of Gavle,
S-801 76 Gavle,


Aim.  This paper reports a study that compares opinions of final year nursing students, rating their own competence, with the opinions of experienced nurses on the competence of newly-graduated nurses.

Background.  The transition of nursing preparation into higher education is regarded as positive, although it has led to differences in opinion about the competence of newly-graduated nurses and their readiness to enter the nursing profession. There are studies showing that newly-graduated nurses perceive themselves as holistically focused, professional practitioners, while other nurses are concerned that newly-graduated nurses do not have necessary skills.

Methods.  A convenience sample of 106 nursing students in the final week of their course and 136 nurses who had experience of supervising nursing students completed a questionnaire. The data were collected in 2002.

Results.  Own competence, in the form of ability to perform nursing care, was rated by nursing students to be good or strongly developed in most of the investigated areas of nursing care. Experienced nurses also estimated newly-graduated nurses’ competence to be good or strongly developed, although to a lesser extent. Nurses qualified within the previous 5 years rated newly-graduated nurses’ competence to be higher in comparison with those with less recent education.

Conclusions.  Further studies are needed to broaden our understanding of why some areas of nursing care, such as ethical awareness, were rated very highly, while others, like informing and teaching of co-workers and planning and prioritizing interventions had the lowest rating.