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A Longitudinal Survey of Nurses’ Self-reported Performance During an Entry to Practice Programme

Di Roud, RN, MHSc(Hons), Nurse Advisor (Professional Development), Auckland District Health Board

Lynne S. Giddings, RN, RM, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health & Environmental Studies, Auckland University of Technology

Jane Koziol-McLain, RN, PhD, Associate Professor, Auckland University of Technology

Roud, D., Giddings, L. S., & Koziol-McLain, J. (2004). A longitudinal survey of nurses’ selfreported performance during an entry to practice programme. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 21(2), 37-46.


Performance expectations are a critical issue in the transition from student to practising nurse for both nurses and their employers. We conducted a study to compare self-reported changes in both frequency and quality of performance of nursing behaviours in a cohort of Aotearoa/New Zealand recently graduated nurses undertaking a one year entry to practice programme. Thirty-three nurses were surveyed, seven weeks after beginning the programme and again seven months later, using a modified version of Schwirian’s (1978) Six-Dimension Scale of Nursing Performance (6-DSNP). Over the study period participants reported significant increases in frequency of performance for the domains of leadership, critical care, teaching/collaboration, and planning/evaluation. Significant increases in the quality of nurse behaviours in the domains of critical care, planning/evaluation and interpersonal relations/communication were also reported. The modified Schwirian 6-DSNP was found to be a useful instrument for measuring nurses’ self reporting of performance during periods of transition.

Key Words: Longitudinal survey, new graduate nurse, nursing performance.  


This longitudinal cohort study examined self-reported changes in nursing performance for newly graduated nurses during their first year of practice. This period is a critical time as newly qualified nurses seek to apply knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours learned during their undergraduate programme to their practice as registered nurses (KPMG Consulting 2001; Ministerial Taskforce on Nursing, 1998). Transition from student to qualified practitioner has been a nursing concern internationally, and in Aotearoa/New Zealand, for at least the past 25 years (Horsburgh, 1989; KPMG Consulting, 2001; McCloskey, 1983; Ministerial Taskforce on Nursing, 1998; Prebble & McDonald, 1997; Schwirian, 1978; Walker & Bailey, 1999). Longitudinal studies have suggested that selfreported performance of newly graduated nurses improved during their first year of practice (Battersby & Hemmings, 1991; Bellinger & McCloskey, 1992). Furthermore in studies where both employers and newly graduated nurses are surveyed the difference between the two perceptions of the graduates’ performance decreases during the first year (Failla, Maher & Duffy, 1999; Vanetzian & Higgins, 1990; Walker & Bailey, 1999). Employers’ perceptions were closer to those of the nurses’. The present study aimed to quantify self-reported changes in frequency (how often) and quality (how well) of nursing behaviours performed by a cohort of newly graduated nurses employed in a large Aotearoa/New Zealand metropolitan hospital. An internationally validated instrument, Schwirian’s (1978) Six-Dimension Scale of Nursing Performance (6- DSNP), was modified for the Aotearoa/ New Zealand context. The nurses’ performance was measured seven weeks after beginning an entry into practice programme and again seven months later.