Perceptions of clinical competence among nurse pregraduates: Do different types of nursing programs make a difference?

Ching-Yu Cheng, Shwu-Ru Liou


Background: New graduate nurses’ competence rarely meets the rigorous expectations of clinical settings. Researchers suggest that competency validation before graduation can shorten the length of clinical orientations for graduate nurses after they enter the workforce. The purpose of this study was to explore the difference in clinical competence between students in different types of nursing programs and to identify skills that need to be reinforced.

Methods: This longitudinal study included 461 students from three different nursing programs: a four-year regular nursing program and a two-year RN-BSN program in day school and night school. A total of 478 students were invited to participate, and 440 students completed and returned questionnaires either at one year before or at the time of graduation with a total response rate of 92.05%.

Results: At the time of graduation, students in all three nursing programs perceived low competence in overall clinical skills. Students in a two-year RN-BSN night school perceived significantly lower competence than students in two other types of nursing programs. Nurse students’ general performance skills and advanced nursing skills need to be reinforced before graduation.

Conclusions: More opportunities for students’ involvement in case-based studies to cultivate their ability to integrate their knowledge and skills and more accumulated hours in deliberate practice with external sources such as electronic resources, training facilities and skill consultation on performance are recommended to enhance students’ clinical competence.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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