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Original Research

Desired attributes of new graduate nurses as identified by the rural community

Submitted: 11 January 2008
Revised: 29 May 2008
Published: 15 July 2008

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Author(s) : Sivamalai S.

Sundram Sivamalai

Citation: Sivamalai S.  Desired attributes of new graduate nurses as identified by the rural community. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2008; 8: 938. Available: (Accessed 23 October 2017)


Introduction: Preparing nurse graduates for practice is challenging because of the diversity of skills expected of them. Increasingly consumers are more informed and expect quality care. Objective: To identify the attributes a rural community expect in new graduate nurses in order for them to provide quality care.
Methods: A questionnaire was designed to assess the importance attached to a set of attributes of graduate nurses expected by a rural community. The community included a range of professionals working with government and hospitals, community volunteers and retired people. After pilot testing, the questionnaire was distributed using a cluster sampling technique. A total of 656 completed questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 69%. The respondents were asked to rate the importance of each item for the community on a five-point Likert scale (5 = extremely important, 4 = very important, 3 = moderately important, 2 = possibly importantly, and 1 = not important at all). Exploratory factor analysis was performed on the 38 items using SPSS (SPSS inc; Chicago, IL, USA). Principal Components Analysis was applied to identify the number of factors followed by Oblimin rotation.
Results: The sample of 656 respondents consisted of 68% females and 30% males (2% did not identify their gender). The majority of the respondents (75.6%) were born in Australia, while 3.2% were born in the UK Kingdom. Principal Components Analysis identified five factors with eigenvalues above one, explaining 47.4% of the total variance. Items that loaded greater than + or - 0.3, (approximately 10% of the common factor variance) was associated with the factor in question. Component 1 was labelled Sympathetic/ Patients’ welfare with the item ‘Nurses should be sensitive to the emotional needs of patients’ showing the highest loading. Component 2 was called Contextual knowledge/ Interpersonal skills. It contained items indicating that nurses should have good personal skills and possess a broad contextual knowledge of issues associated with the practice of their profession, including financial, legal, economic, resources and social matters. Component 3 was titled Professionalism and contained items relating to professional behaviour, including the application of theory to daily nursing practice, ability to work in a team, and to accept the guidance given by their colleagues. The fourth component was identified as Personal attributes, with items relating to personal appearance (neat and tidy), personality (cheerful, patient) and skills (good organizational and time management skills. The fifth component was Accountability, and contained items such as, ‘Nurses should be able to recognise their own limitations’.
Conclusions: The attributes perceived by a rural community in new nurse graduates related to sympathetic/ patients' welfare, contextual knowledge/interpersonal skills, professionalism, personal attributes, and accountability. Preparing nurses to work in rural settings requires consideration of many aspects including: educational programs; employer support; planned and coordinated rural orientation strategy; and rural support issues, among others. The attributes identified in this study could be used to better guide the training and preparation of nurses for employment in rural settings.

Key words:  community perceptions, nurse training, rural nurse attributes.

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