From the staff development bookshelf: Evaluating new graduate nurses

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, August 12, 2011

Nurse residency program (NRP) coordinators can receive uncertain and conflicting information with regard to graduate nurses' progress from those who interact with the nurses:  preceptors, peers, nurse leaders, and even patients, who all may have differing opinions on new graduates' progression. The challenge lies in sifting through all the information to support new graduates' growth and transition and facilitate positive program outcomes, such as retention.

Evaluating the progress of new nurses can be challenging.  Approaches to direct care nurse competency evaluation vary widely between institutions, from lengthy skills checklists to broad competency-based evaluation tools. Competency assessment and evaluation by patients and preceptors may be subjective, yet it is still valuable. 

Self-evaluation and reflection on practice can provide insight into new nurses' progress. However, this approach may provide skewed results due to the transition process itself, such as during the paradoxical crisis phase when new nurses actually gain competence while losing confidence. Providing weekly clinical feedback and written pre- and post-session tests are commonly utilized formative evaluation methods. Ideally, a nursing unit orientation end date should be determined by summative evaluation criteria beyond completion of a checklist, but often budget constraints play a larger role.

Source: Book excerpt adapted from Nurse Residency Program Builder: Tools for a Successful New Graduate Program by Jim Hansen, MSN, RN-BC.

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