A montage of the qualities of the registered nurse

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Aim: This study aimed to gain undergraduate nursing students' perceptions of the essential qualities of the professional nurse.

Background: An essential component of undergraduate nursing programmes is to educate the student to become qualified as a professional/registered nurse. These characteristics will determine curricula and students' perceptions. No qualitative studies of the essential qualities of nurses are evident in recent literature.

Methods: A descriptive survey method was used to gather participants' perceptions of the qualities of a registered nurse over each year of their bachelor of nursing course at the largest programme in Australia.

Findings: Six concepts occurred most frequently in the students' responses. Caring was the most common followed by knowledge/understanding, empathy, work, communication and skills.

Discussion: A montage was developed with an interlacing of the qualities rather than any one concept predominating any year. Each quality was seen as essential and used to varying degrees as the nurse becomes a professional. These qualities form part of the education of nurses and have implications for nursing and/or health policy. This study has implications in the development of nursing curricula, which should include both the science and art of nursing with an emphasis on technical and communication skills.

Conclusion: This study has shown that students in Australia hold similar perceptions to their contemporaries in other international western countries.

Implications for Nursing and Health Policy: Caring is emphasized as a critical component of nursing delivery; however, opportunities must be presented to students to integrate skills such as caring, knowledge/understanding, empathy and communication.

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Journal Article

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ERA Access