Measuring professional competencies of registered nurses and nursing students. A cross-sectional comparative study Nurses and students’ competencies


Emanuela Prendi
Alessandro Stievano
Rosario Caruso
Blerina Duka
Florian Spada
Gennaro Rocco
Ippolito Notarnicola


Nursing education, Nurses' Professional Competence Scale Short Form, Observational study, Professional competence, Registered and student nurses.


Background and Aim of the work: Professional competence is essential in providing nursing care based on standards. This concept can be measured, among various instruments, with the Nurses' Professional Competence Scale Short Form (NPCS-SF). The main aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of Registered Nurses (RNs) and Student Nurses (SNs) of their competencies and investigate their differences in the development of nursing competencies using the Italian version of the NPCS-SF.

Methods: A cross-sectional observational study design was accomplished. The research was based on a convenience sample of 328 RNs and SNs (response rate: 81.95%) recruited at the University of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Tirane, Albania and Tor Vergata University Hospital, Rome, Italy.

Results: RNs averaged higher than SNs’ (m= 86.11 ± 9.53 SD) in professional competencies development. The factor for which the mean was highest for RNs was ‘ethics of nursing care’ (m = 89.54 ± 8.31 SD). SNs scored the lowest in leadership and coordination of nursing care (m = 78.36 ± 14.55 SD).

Conclusions: The factors that scored the highest and lowest on the scale were similar with the results of using NPCS-SF in other countries. The study results may indicate that specific training for RNs and SNs could be accomplished based on different competence factors that show low scores of the NPCS-SF. The NPCS-SF has also shown excellent reliability in the Italian context. Furthermore, these findings have implications for teaching competencies in educational institutions and further research.




Download data is not yet available.
Abstract 3 | PDF Downloads 2


1. Blažun H, Kokol P, Vošner J. Research literature production on nursing competencies from 1981 till 2012: A bibliometric snapshot. Nurse Educ Today 2015; 35(5): 673-9.
2. Rocco G, Affonso D, Caruso R, Duka B, Giardina B, Notarnicola I, Sabatino L, Shaffer F, Stievano A. Nursing in Albania: A catalytic force in transforming health professionals and health care. J Nurs Scholar 2021; 53(4): 479-89.
3. WHO. The World Health Report 2006: working together for health. World Health Organization. Available from: Accessed on June 07, 2022.
4. WHO. State of the world's nursing 2020: investing in education, jobs and leadership. World Health Organization. Available from: . Accessed on June 07, 2022.
5. WHO. Defining competent maternal and newborn health professionals: background document to the 2018 joint statement by WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, ICM, ICN, FIGO and IPA: definition of skilled health personnel providing care during childbirth. Available from: . Accessed on June 07, 2022.
6. Lehane E, Leahy-Warren P, O’Riordan C, et al. Evidence-based practice education for healthcare professions: an expert view. BMJ Evid-Based Med 2019; 24(3): 103-08.
7. Ten Cate O. Competency-Based postgraduate medical education: Past, present and future. GMS J Med Educ 2017; 15, 34(5).
8. Notarnicola I, Petrucci C, De Jesus Barbosa MR, Giorgi F, Stievano A, Lancia L Clinical competence in nursing: A concept analysis. [Competenza clinica in infermieristica: un'analisi concettuale ] Prof Inf 2016; 69(3): 174-81.
9. Nilsson J, Johansson E, Egmar AC, et al. Development and validation of a new tool measuring nurses self-reported professional competence—The nurse professional competence (NPC) Scale. Nurse Educ Today 2014; 34(4): 574-80.
10. Feo R, Kitson A, Conroy T. How fundamental aspects of nursing care are defined in the literature: A scoping review. J Clin Nurs 2018; 27(11-12): 2189-2229.
11. Karami A, Farokhzadian J, Foroughameri G. Nurses' professional competency and organisational commitment: Is it important for human resource management? PloS One 2017; 12(11): e0187863.
12. Nilsson J, Mischo-Kelling M, Thiekoetter A, et al. Nurse professional competence (NPC) assessed among newly graduated nurses in higher educational institutions in Europe. Nordic J Nurs Res 2019; 39(3): 159-67.
13. Gardulf A, Florin J, Carlsson M, et al. The Nurse Professional Competence (NPC) Scale: A tool that can be used in national and international assessments of nursing education programmes. Nordic J Nurs Res 2019; 39(3): 137-42.
14. Theander K, Wilde-Larsson B, Carlsson M, Florin J, Gardulf A, Johansson E, Lindholm C, Nordström G, Nilsson J. Adjusting to future demands in healthcare: Curriculum changes and nursing students' self-reported professional competence. Nurse Educ Today 2016; 37: 178-83.
15. Kleib M, Chauvette A, Furlong K, Nagle L, Slater L, McCloskey R. Approaches for defining and assessing nursing informatics competencies: a scoping review. JBI Evid Synth 2021; 19(4): 794-841.
16. Blackburn J, Ousey K, Stephenson J. Nurses’ education, confidence, and competence in appropriate dressing choice. Adv Skin & Wound Care 2019; 32(10): 470-6.
17. Mlambo M, Silén C, McGrath C. Lifelong learning and nurses' continuing professional development, a meta-synthesis of the literature. BMC Nurs 2021, 20(1): 1-13.
18. Karlsson AC, Gunningberg L, Bäckström J, Pöder U. Registered nurses’ perspectives of work satisfaction, patient safety and intention to stay–A double‐edged sword. J Nurs Manag 2019; 27(7): 1359-65.
19. Meretoja R, Isoaho H, Leino‐Kilpi H. Nurse competence scale: development and psychometric testing. J Adv Nurs 2004; 47(2): 124-33.
20. Liu M, Kunaiktikul W, Senaratana W, Tonmukayakul O, Eriksen L. Development of competency inventory for registered nurses in the People's Republic of China: scale development. Int J Nurs Stud 2007; 44(5): 805-13.
21. Cowan DT, Wilson-Barnett J, & Norman IJ. A European survey of general nurses’ self assessment of competence. Nurse Educ Today 2007; 27(5): 452-8.
22. Takase M, Teraoka S. Development of the holistic nursing competence scale. Nurs Health Sci 2011; 13(4): 396-403.
23. Borsa JC, Damásio BF, Bandeira, DR. Cross-cultural adaptation and validation of psychological instruments: Some considerations. Paidéia 2012; 22: 423-32.
24. Lenz AS, Gómez Soler I, Dell'Aquilla J, Uribe PM. Translation and cross-cultural adaptation of assessments for use in counseling research. Meas Eval Couns Dev 2017; 50(4): 224-31.
25. The National Board of Health and Welfare. Competence Requirements for Registered Nurses. Stockholm. Sweden (Kompetensbeskrivning för legitimerad sjuksköterska. Socialstyrelsen, Stockholm, Sverige). 2017. Available from: Accessed on June 07, 2022.
26. Cronenwett L, Sherwood G, Barnsteiner J, Disch J, Johnson J, Mitchell P, Taylor Sullivan P, WarrenJ. Quality and safety education for nurses. Nurs Outlook 2007; 55(3): 122-31.
27. WHO. Global standards for the initial education of professional nurses and midwives. 2009. World Health Organization. Available from: Accessed on June 07, 2022.
28. Nilsson J, Engström M, Florin J, Gardulf A, Carlsson M. A short version of the nurse professional competence scale for measuring nurses' sef-reported competence. Nurse Educ Today 2018; 71: 233-9.
29. Xu L., Nilsson J., Zhang, J., Engström M. Psychometric evaluation of Nurse Professional Competence Scale-Short-form Chinese language version among nursing graduate students. Nurs Open 2021, 8(6), 3232–3241.
30. Prosen M, Kvas A, Bošković S, Ličen S. Cross-cultural adaptation and psychometric evaluation of the Slovenian version of the nurse professional competence scale. BMC Nurs 2021, 20(1), 142.
31. van de Mortel TF, Nilsson J, Lepp M. Validating the Nurse Professional Competence Scale with Australian baccalaureate nursing students. Collegian 2021; 28(2): 244-51.
32. Halabi JO, Lepp M, Nilsson J. Assessing self-reported competence among registered nurses working as a culturally diverse workforce in public hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. J Trans Nurs 2021; 32(1): 69-76.
33. Von Elm, E., Altman, D. G., Egger, M., Pocock, S. J., Gøtzsche, P. C., Vandenbroucke JP. The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies. Int J Surg 2014; 12(12): 1495-99.
34. Beaton DE, Bombardier C, Guillemin F, Ferraz MB. Guidelines for the process of cross-cultural adaptation of self-report measures. Spine 2000; 25(24): 3186-91.
35. Authors Nurse Competence Scale: psychometric assessment in the Italian context.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>