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Improvement in self-reported confidence in nurses’ professional skills in the emergency department

Veli-Pekka Rautava1, Erika Palomäki12, Tapio Innamaa13, Mika Perttu14, Päivi Lehto1 and Ari Palomäki1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Kanta-Häme Central Hospital, Ahvenistontie 20, FI-13530, Hämeenlinna, Finland

2 Faculty of Education, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35 (Educa/D), Jyväskylä, FI-40014, Finland

3 Health Care Services of Hämeenlinna, Viipurintie 1-3, Hämeenlinna, FI-13100, Finland

4 Department of Neurology, Kanta-Häme Central Hospital, Ahvenistontie 20, Hämeenlinna, FI-13530, Finland

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Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 2013, 21:16  doi:10.1186/1757-7241-21-16

Published: 5 March 2013



The aim of this study was to assess nurses’ self-reported confidence in their professional skills before and after an extensive Emergency Department (ED) reform in Kanta-Häme Central Hospital.


Emergency nurses participated in transitional training commencing two years before the establishment of the new organization in 2007. Training was followed by weekly practical educational sessions in the new ED. During this process nurses improved their transition skills, defined house rules for the new clinic and improved their knowledge of new technology and instruments. The main processes involving critically ill ED patients were described and modelled with an electronic flow chart software.

During the transitional training nurses compiled lists of practical skills and measures needed in the ED. These were updated after feedback from physicians in primary and secondary care and head physicians in Kanta-Häme Central Hospital. The final 189-item list comprised 15 different categories, each containing from 4 to 35 items. Based on the work described above, a questionnaire was developed to reflect ED nurses’ skills in clinical measures but also to estimate the need for professional education and practical training. Nurses working in the ED were asked to fill the questionnaire in January 2007 (response rate 97%) and in January 2011 (response rate 98%).


Nurses’ self-reported confidence in their professional skills improved significally in eight classes out of fifteen. These classes were cannulations, urinary catheterizations, patient monitoring, cardiac patients, equipment, triage and nurse practising, psychiatric patients as well as infection risk. Best results were noted in urinary catheterizations, patient monitoring and infection risk. When studying the group of nurses participating in both surveys in 2007 and 2011, improvements were observed in all fifteen categories. All but two of these changes were significant (p<0.05).


During an extensive reform of emergency services, we noted a significant improvement in the professional skills of nurses. This improvement was especially consistent among nurses working in the ED during the whole transition process. Nurses’ education and training program in the ED may be successfully put into practice when based on co-operation between nurses and physicians dedicated to emergency services.