Evaluation of graduate nurse programs

Year: 1994

Author: Waldrip, Bruce G., Fisher, Darrell L., Venville, Grady, Harrison, Allan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In Western Australia, one-year graduate nurse programs are provided by the major metropolitan and regional hospitals to facilitate the transition of graduating nurses from university courses to full-time clinical nursing. This study investigated the efficacy of the existing hospital-based graduate nurse programs from the perspectives of present and past nurses, nurse educators and hospital administrators. The study's key research questions concern reasons for the existence of the programs, program aims, course content and methods, program strengths and weaknesses, program entry criteria, and the overall effectiveness of programs in meeting the needs of new graduates.

The study employed both quantitative and qualitative probes in the form of a broad-based questionnaire and over 100 individual interviews. The questionnaire was distributed statewide to every person who could be identified as being involved in graduate nurse programs. The resulting statistical data were interpreted and used to generate the interview question set. The subsequent interviews provided individual insights which, along with the statistical data, were used to answer the study's key questions. Analysis of variance indicated no significant differences between the hospitals involved. The study also analysed the curricula employed in a variety of hospital settings from the viewpoints of the intended and implemented curricula. In addition, common approaches and innovative practices were identified from syllabus statements and from the questionnaire and interviews. The graduate nurse program was perceived as being both essential and effective in integrating nurses into the clinical practice in Western Australia's hospitals.