Previous studies suggest that not only education but also personal aspects such as experience of working as a registered nurse (RN) and age can influence competence. The objective was to explore the educational and self-rated competence of RNs and their duties within the care of older people.
A cross-sectional descriptive design was used. All RNs in two counties in Sweden were asked to complete a written questionnaire: a study specific questionnaire with educational and work related questions using the Nurse Competence Scale. The response rate was 61% (n 344).
Higher self-rated satisfaction with own professional competence was related to older age, more years after nursing education and possessing at least one postgraduate education in specialist nursing. Educational needs were related to younger age and fewer years since nursing graduation. Education within elder care, including education about drugs was rated the most urgently needed area of education. The most frequently reported tasks were found in the domain helping role, whereas ensuring quality was less present in their daily work.
Educational level, age and years of experience had an impact on RNs' self-perceived competence, which is in accordance with previous descriptions of the concept competence. It seems imperative that RNs working in care of the old and with the demands placed on them are given the opportunity to take a postgraduate specialist education in order to gain a competence level in their desired area of work. It is also important that RNs working in care of the old get tailored education in line with the requirements the organisation places on them.