Preparing to change from acute to community-based care. Learning needs of hospital-based nurses.

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OBJECTIVE: Increasingly, professional nurses will be required to function in practice settings other than acute care, yet little is known about how nurses perceive the skill sets required to practice in these nonacute care settings. This study explores nurses' perceptions and needs concerning the transition from acute to home care and community-based healthcare facilities.

BACKGROUND: Because the healthcare reform environment of the 1990s mandates changes in the ways hospitals and hospital nurses care for patients, many nurses in acute care settings anticipate that their roles will include or perhaps shift completely to practice in the home and other community-based settings. How professional nurses perceive the skills required to practice in these nonacute care settings may well influence their willingness to accept work redesign initiatives and voluntary employment transitions that involve working outside the hospital setting.

METHODS: Based on focus groups and the literature a three-part 56-item questionnaire was developed as the study instrument to assess skill needs and concerns related to functioning in the acute, home, and community-based setting. A total of 879 nurses representing various specialties in healthcare institutions in the Philadelphia and five-county surrounding areas participated.

RESULTS: Test retest for the study instrument was 0.87 for a 2-week period, and alpha coefficients ranged from 0.90 to 0.94. Multivariate analyses revealed that proficiency on certain skill items in the acute care setting predicted feelings of proficiency in home and community-based settings. Based on regression and discriminant function analyses, top predictors and differentiators of proficiency in the nonacute care settings were wound care and dressing, knowledge of community resources, diabetic education, patient and family advocacy, communication with third-party payers, and neonatal care.

CONCLUSIONS: Some nurses, such as those working in critical care, perceive themselves as being able to function proficiently in a wide variety of care settings-acute home, and community based. Furthermore, certain acute care skills were identified as top differentiators of proficiency in nonhospital settings, thus providing direction for nursing administrators and academic institutions. In addition, the tool developed for the study can serve as a self-assessment for individual nurses.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Patient Care Services / Nursing

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