New Nurses and Their Perceived Technical Skill Competency

John P. Angkaw, PhD(c), MEd, BScN, RN
The University of Western Ontario
London, ON

Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the self-reported technical skill competency of newly graduated baccalaureate-prepared nurses.

Rationale/Significance: Although past studies have investigated new nurse’s initial practice experience, only a limited amount of literature exists that sheds light on the technical competency of new nurses. This study was innovative, as it was one of the first research studies to investigate the self-reported technical competency of new nurses emerging from the Ontario collaborative nursing programs.

Methodology: This study utilized an instrument comprised of 60 technical skill items arranged in eight categories. Participants were asked to indicate their perceived level of competency for each skill item on a five point likert-scale.

Sample/Setting: A convenience sample was drawn from an Ontario University’s undergraduate collaborative nursing program. The research sample was homogenous, consisting of new graduate nurses obtained from an alumni list from the previous three years.

Results: Findings indicate that respondents perceived themselves to be adequately competent, however, five technical skill items received low scores: continuous cardiac monitoring, inserting naso-gastric feeding tube, postural drainage and percussion, management of ventilated patients, and administer chemotherapy. In addition, findings indicate that respondents perceived themselves to be the least competent in the respiratory skills categories.

Conclusion: The technical competency of new nurses is a much sought after commodity, since it significantly impacts patient care. Much discussion has centered on the responsibilities of schools of nursing and hospital institutions to foster the development of technical competency among new nurses, new nurses should be encouraged to take ownership over their nursing competency development. Although the new nurses in this study perceived themselves to be adequately competent, initiatives and strategies can be continuously implemented to sustain and increase their perceived competency levels.