Ask the expert: Move new graduate nurses from novice to competent

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, May 1, 2009

This week, Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, shows ways to transition a novice staff nurse to a competent staff nurse.

Q: As a staff educator, how can I transition novice staff nurses to become competent?

A: It may seem obvious that the expectations for critical thinking displayed by new graduate nurses would not be the same as those for experienced nurses. Yet many new graduate nurses are facing peer groups who have already decided what they should/should not know. Precepetors, nurse educators, and nurse mangers are the ones who must set the expectations for new graduates, not the experienced nurses on the unit. But as new graduates move further along and out of their orientation period, assist in the transition from novice staff nurse to competent staff nurse by considering the following:

  • Clarify all questions regarding expectations
  • Use tools that allow new graduates to self-assess their level of critical thinking
  • Reevaluate decision-making skills throughout the orientation process
  • Promote a culture and environment that encourage critical thinking

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