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Keywords:

  • attitudes to organ donation;
  • intensive care nursing;
  • questionnaire;
  • transplantation

meyer k., bjørk i.t. & eide h. (2012) Intensive care nurses’ perceptions of their professional competence in the organ donor process. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(1), 104–115.

Abstract

Aims.  This paper is a report of a study that explored Norwegian intensive care nurses’ perceptions of their professional competence to identify educational needs in the organ donor process.

Background.  Intensive care professionals are requested to consider organ donation each time they care for patients with severe cerebral lesion to ensure donor organs for transplantation. The donor process challenges intensive care nurses’ professional competence. Nurses’ knowledge and experience may influence their professional competence in caring for organ donors and their relatives.

Methods.  A cross-sectional survey was conducted in all 28 Norwegian donor hospitals between October 2008 and January 2009. Intensive care nurses (N = 801) were invited to participate and the response rate was 71·4%. Dimensions of professional competence, learning needs and contextual and demographic variables were explored. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics.

Findings.  Few intensive care nurses had extensive experience of or competence and training in organ donation. Nurses working at university hospitals had more experience, but lesser training than nurses in local hospitals. Experience of donor acquisition had an impact on intensive care nurses’ perceptions of their professional competence in the donor process. Discussions on the ward and educational input were seen as important for the further development of professional competence.

Conclusion.  Training provided by experienced colleagues and a culture that encourages discussion about aspects of the donor process can develop nurses’ professional competence and communally defined professional practice. Educational input that cultivates various types of knowledge can be beneficial in organ donation.