New graduate nurse operational capability within the first two years in the operating theatre as a tertiary hospital in NZ. Christina Mason

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Little is unknown about new graduate nurses first years of employment in the Operating Theatre. This research aimed to determine the timeframes that new graduate nurses achieve competence and confidence at performing core and specialty skills related to scrubbing, circulating and leadership within the Operating Theatre. Pre-registration exposure was established, and the significance of orientation and education explored. Participants included registered nurses (n=39) employed through the nursing entry to practice (NEtP) programme, at the research site operating theatres between August 2018 and August 2020.

Overall aim
To establish the operational capability gained by the new graduate workforce within the first two years of employment within the operating theatres.

Specific objectives

  1. To establish the level of Operating Theatre exposure, new graduate nurses, receive before commencing their NETP year.
  2. To establish the skill level competence acquired by new graduate nurses in scrubbing and circulating for minor, intermediate and major speciality cases within their employment.
  3. To establish factors which contribute to skill acquisition within the Operating Theatre.
  4. To determine the timeframe that new graduate nurses are undertaking clinical leadership roles within the Operating Theatre environment.
  5. To establish the confidence levels of new graduates, required to work across the department/specialities.

A descriptive survey designed to collect quantitative data was chosen to establish associations between the variables and investigate statistical relationships. Data collection from the sample group was via an anonymous Qualtrics questionnaire. Data was exported directly, and analysed in, the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 26 (SPSS26).

Results showed that NGN acquired basic and intermediate scrub and circulating skills across several specialities within the first year of practice. The number of specialities increased in the second year of practice, and further accomplishment of complex skills could be seen in a minimum of one speciality.
NGN showed confidence in their acquired competence skills. Furthermore, results reported that new graduate nurses undertook basic leadership roles early in the first year of practice. However, complex leadership roles, were not experienced by new graduate nurses as frequently and took longer to develop confidence.

Overall, the research concluded that new graduate nurses became competent and confident within the first year of employment in basic and intermediate surgery, with increasing confidence in complexity in the second year of practice.

Christina has worked as a Theatre Nurse since 2000, in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Career highlights include working at the Royal Marsden Hospital where she developed her love of Hepatobiliary surgery and working at Christchurch Hospital where she was the Operating Theatre Clinical Nurse Specialist for General Surgery, a role she held for six years. Christina is currently the Theatre Manager for Mercy Hospital, MercyAscot, Auckland.