Professional nurses' perceptions of the skills required to render comprehensive primary health care services

M S M Hlahane, M Greeff, E du Plessis
Curationis 2006, 29 (4): 82-94
As multidisciplinary health team members, professional nurses play a vital role in the delivery of primary health care services. They require specific knowledge and skills to function effectively in the primary health care settings. In South Africa, however, professional nurses followed various training programmes. This has made it difficult for the professional nurses to be competent in rendering the full spectrum of comprehensive primary health care services, focussing on preventive, promotive, curative as well as rehabilitative care. In a setting where professional nurses have different qualifications it is possible that they do not recognise their own limitations. The research aimed to explore and describe the perceptions of professional nurses about the skills required and their own level of skills to render comprehensive primary health care services. A further aim of the research was to formulate guidelines for the facilitation of trained professional nurses to truly render quality comprehensive primary health care services, based on the findings. A qualitative design was followed. Participants were identified by means of purposive voluntary sampling and data was collected by utilising a semi-structured interview schedule. Twenty two participants were interviewed. After each interview field notes were written. Ethical aspects and confidentiality were taken into consideration. The researcher and a co-coder analysed the transcribed interviews by means of open coding. The findings indicated that the more comprehensively the professional nurses were trained, the more competent they felt. The less comprehensively trained, the more negative they experienced their work. They viewed their skills as ranging from adequate to inadequate, depending on their training. The conclusion was drawn that professional nurses' perceptions were congruent with the skills they possessed. Recommendations for nursing research, education and practice, including guidelines to facilitate trained professional nurses to truly render comprehensive primary health care, were formulated.

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