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New Nurses' Views of Quality Improvement Education

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Background: Quality improvement (QI) is a focus of hospital managers and policymakers. The role of registered nurses (RNs) in QI in hospitals is vital because most hospital-based RNs provide direct care to patients. QI skills are necessary to identify gaps between current care and best practice and to design, implement, test, and evaluate changes and are essential for R.N.s to participate effectively in QI. Newly licensed registered nurses' (new nurses') positions as direct caregivers could have an impact on QI if nurses lack sufficient knowledge, concepts, and tools required for QI.

Methods: Data came from the 436 respondents (69.4% response rate) to a 2008 eight-page mailed survey to participants in a nationally representative panel survey of new nurses who graduated between August 1, 2004, and July 31, 2005.

Results: Overall, 159 (38.6%) of new nurses thought that they were “poorly” or “very poorly” prepared about or had “never heard of” QI. Their perceptions of preparation varied widely by the specific topic. Baccalaureate (B.S.) graduates reported significantly higher levels of preparation than associate degree (A.D.) graduates in evidence-based practice; assessing gaps in practice, teamwork, and collaboration; and many of the research-type skills such as data collection, analysis, measurement, and measuring resulting changes.

Discussion: Registered-nurse educational programs need to improve education about and application of QI concepts and to consider focusing QI content into a separate course to have some confidence that faculty will teach it. Despite the strong focus on QI in hospitals, new nurses do not see the connection between QI education and successfully performing their hospital jobs. Both nursing programs and hospitals should help new nurses make the connection.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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