Graduating nursing students' perceived preparedness for working in critical care areas
Aims. This article reports a study examining the relationships between undergraduate students’ demographics, educational preparation and clinical experience and their self reported preparedness for employment in critical care. Background. Increasing demand for critical care services internationally, creates a need to grow the critical care nursing workforce. Limited data are available on factors affecting new graduate nurses’ career choices. Methods. Final year nursing students from a multi-campus Australian university were surveyed during 2009. Results. Over half of the participants were interested in seeking employment in critical care following graduation. Main reasons for choosing critical care nursing were: (i) like varied and challenging work; (ii) opportunities for professional development; and (iii) like working one-on-one with patients. The main barriers identified by participants were related to the lack of knowledge and clinical skills required to work in critical care. Using the 9-item Confidence and Interest in Critical Care Nursing scale, the study revealed that male participants and those who spent more than 1 week clinical placement in critical care were significantly more likely to report greater confidence and interest in seeking employment in critical care areas. Conclusions. The value of placing nursing students in critical care areas for more than 1 week during undergraduate clinical placements is affirmed. Whilst most final year students report feeling prepared to work in critical care areas, the next step is to explore the transition of students as new graduates in critical care to identify professional and educational issues that impact on their retention.