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Recruiting competent newly qualified nurses in the London region: An exploratory study

Recruiting competent newly qualified nurses in the London region: An exploratory study

Burke, Linda, Sayer, Jane, Morris-Thompson, Trish and Marks-Maran, Di (2014) Recruiting competent newly qualified nurses in the London region: An exploratory study. Nurse Education Today, 34 (10). pp. 1283-1289. ISSN 0260-6917 (doi:

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This paper reports a study commissioned to address concerns that not all newly qualified nurses (NQNs) were perceived to be competent at the point of appointment to their first post. It seeks to understand how competence is interpreted in the context of selection and recruitment, and explore the different expectations and experiences of employing Trusts across the London region.


Competence is a significant topic in nursing and there is much literature around the concept, what it means and how it relates to behaviours and values with no universally accepted definition. However, there appears to be little evidence about how competence is assessed in practice in the selection and recruitment of NQNs to their first post.


The study took a three-phase, mixed method approach including a literature review, an electronic survey to map current assessment and selection procedures, and focus groups to identify the competencies perceived essential by senior nurses.


Most Trusts reported assessing core competencies, and could report how they do this with respect to literacy and numeracy. Employers could describe what they required from NQNs, and how applicants both met and did not meet expectations. Several personal attributes were considered as important as key competences, but these are not described in the KSF or NMC frameworks, and it is not clear how these are assessed in selection processes.


There appeared to be a large variation in the number and types of competence assessments being used for recruitment, with little consistency in the detail of the assessments, although broadly similar assessment exercises are used. There appears to be little evidence as to the validity of the measures being used and whether in fact they are measuring the competences that are being sought or considered most important. It would appear that practical skills are more easily assessable, but there is a lack of clarity regarding the assessment of those competences that are considered equally important but appear to be more elusive to assessment such as communication and teamwork. It is also unclear how a number of 'personal qualities' described as essential for NQNs are being assessed at recruitment.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Competence; Competency frameworks; Newly qualified nurse; Recruitment
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2016 09:51

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