Background: The transition from a nursing student to a professional nurse is both challenging and stressful. Competence of graduating nursing students is related to patient safety and there is a need for assessment of competence. However, there is a lack of research on the level of competence at the moment of graduation.
Objectives: To describe the level of competence of graduating nursing students based on students' self-assessments and to identify possible related factors.
Design: Cross-sectional survey design.
Methods: The data were collected using an on-line survey (the Nurse Competence Scale) in 2011 and administered to 302 graduating nursing students in Finland practicing in their final clinical placement in university hospitals. The sample contained 154 students (response rate 51%). The data were analyzed statistically.
Results: The self-assessed overall competence was on good level (66.7, VAS 0-100). The competence was highest in helping role and in diagnostic functions, being slightly lower in therapeutic interventions and work role. Pedagogical atmosphere during the final clinical placement had a statistically significantly positive correlation with the overall level of competence.
Conclusions: Graduating nursing students have good competence at the moment of graduation based on their self-assessments. Self-assessment is a basis for competence development, and systematic self-assessments should be used during the education. Teacher and supervisor assessments and knowledge-tests could be used alongside with self-assessments of competence to give a wider picture of the competence.
Keywords: Competence; Graduating nursing student; Learning environment; Nurse Competence Scale; Self-assessment.