Professional nurses’ perceptions about the competency of newly qualified diploma nurses in Swaziland
This study explored and described the perceptions of professional nurses regarding the competence of diploma graduate nurses in Swaziland rural clinics. A qualitative research approach was used, following an exploratory and descriptive research design. Two focus group interviews were conducted at three rural clinical health facilities within the Lubombo region of Swaziland. Data saturation was reached during the second focus group interview. Nine professional nurses were interviewed. A qualitative open coding method was used for data analysis. Trustworthiness was ensured and ethical considerations were adhered to. The competence of newly qualified diploma graduate nurses is central to the provision of quality patient care. The newly qualified diploma nurses were perceived as limited in applying foundational knowledge during provision of patient care, inadequate in clinical procedures, displaying attitudes that mask lack of confidence, unable to function independently in spite of the extensive theoretical and practical training received and displaying insensitivity and intolerance to clients of different cultural backgrounds. However, other graduates demonstrated positive performances in these areas. The findings further reflected the importance of improving the competence of graduate nurses in their first two years of practice to ensure effective clinical practice. The findings were discussed using literature and recommendations were described. Study findings revealed a disparity between the perceptions of professional nurses and the competence level of the newly qualified diploma nurses. Thus, nursing education programmes should incorporate recommendations to enhance the competence of diploma graduate students upon qualification.
Keywords: Professional nurses, competence, diploma graduate nurses, rural clinics