How do new graduate nurses from a competency-based program demonstrate their competencies? A focused ethnography of acute care settings Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Following major organizations' recommendations, healthcare professionals' education has been reformed in the last decade into competency-based education (CBE) to better prepare them with core competencies. This change was intended to prepare new graduates for the reality of health systems and future challenges. Few studies have focused on how new graduate nurses (NGNs) from these reformed programs use the competencies they have developed. OBJECTIVE:To describe the competencies of NGNs from a Canadian competency-based baccalaureate program, as perceived by various actors in acute-care settings. METHODS:A focused ethnography was conducted on three acute-care wards of an academic hospital. Participants (n = 19) from four subgroups (NGNs, preceptors, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse managers) participated in individual semi-structured interviews or focus groups. Data were also collected through observation and fieldnotes; an ethnographic analysis framework was used. RESULTS:Three themes were identified to describe the deployment of NGNs' competencies: NGNs' appropriation of their new role, fragmentation of practice into tasks, and development of practice; NGNs' collaboration within the interprofessional team, management of the dyad with licensed practical nurses, and ability to integrate patients and families into the team; and NGNs' scientific practice, increased scientific curiosity, and use of credible sources. Analysis of these themes' elements in light of the competency framework of the program showed that NGNs deploy seven of the eight competencies developed during their training. CONCLUSION:This study's results can be applied by nursing educators and hospital decision makers to ensure NGNs are able to use their competencies and to smoothen the transition period between the academic and clinical settings.

publication date

  • 2019