Aims and objectives: The aim of this study was to explore perceptions of qualified nurses on the abilities of newly registered nursing graduates to perform a variety of clinical skills. Background: Evidence from the literature suggests that undergraduate nursing programmes do not adequately prepare nursing students to be practice-ready on completion of their nursing courses. Design: A descriptive quantitative design was used. Methods: Participants were recruited through the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Victorian branch. A brief explanation of the study and a link to the survey were promoted in their monthly e-newsletter. A total of 245 qualified nurses in the state of Victoria, Australia participated in this study. A survey tool of 51 clinical skills and open-ended questions was used, whereby participants were asked to rate new nursing graduates' abilities using a 5-point Likert scale. Results: Overall participants rated new nursing graduates' abilities for undertaking clinical skills as good or very good in 35·3% of skills, 33·3% were rated as adequate and 31·4% rated as being performed poorly or very poorly. Of concern, essential clinical skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, working independently and assessment procedures, were found to be poorly executed and affecting new registered nurses graduates' competence. Conclusion: The findings from this study can further serve as a reference for nursing education providers to enhance nursing curricula and work collaboratively with healthcare settings in preparing nurses to be competent, safe practitioners on completion of their studies. Relevance to clinical practice: Identifying key areas in which new nursing graduates are not yet competent means that educational providers and educators from healthcare settings can focus on these skills in better preparing our nurses to be work ready.
Over the past decade, many questions have been raised about graduates' clinical competence and fitness for practice upon completion of their undergraduate education. Despite the significance of this issue, the perspectives of registered nurses have rarely been examined. This systematic review explores the perceptions of experienced registered nurses regarding the clinical competence of new nursing graduates. Original research studies published between 2004-2014 were identified using electronic databases, reference lists, and by searching "grey literature." Papers were critically reviewed and relevant data extracted and synthesized using an approach based on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis. From 153 studies initially identified, 15 original research papers were included. Four main research themes were identified: clinical/technical skills, critical thinking, interaction/communication, and overall readiness for practice. Areas of concern in relation to the clinical competence of new nursing graduates specifically related to two themes: critical thinking and clinical/technical skills. Further research is required on strategies identified within the literature with the ultimate aim of ensuring new nursing graduates are safe and competent practitioners.