Background There appears to be a sense of disappointment with the product of contemporary nursing programs in Australia in that new graduate RNs are often referred to as not possessing appropriate skills by clinical colleagues. This work identifies the skills that the profession believes that newly graduating RN's should possess at the point of registration. Methods A qualitative consensus methodology was used in the form of a modified Delphi survey. Expert panels were used to review and validate data. Results Consensus was reached on the top 25 skills areas that can be reasonably expected of a new graduate Registered Nurse in Australia. The top ranked skills areas included efficient and effective communication, professional nursing behaviours, privacy and dignity and managing medication administration. Conclusions The consensus methodologies used to develop the skills areas indicated broad agreement across the profession in Australia. The complexity and context of practice was highlighted in the comments within the Delphi rounds. Interestingly no new skills were added and none removed from the initial list - some were prioritised over others but the majority agreed that all the skills areas were important for a newly graduating nurse.