The following article features coverage from the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) 2018 Annual Conference in Austin, Texas. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage. 

A standardized skills lab based on a learner needs assessment can ensure consistent knowledge and competency among nurses across all adult care units, according to results of a study presented at the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) 2018 Annual Conference.

Staff nurses receive instruction and undergo confirmation of competency from the CNS in their individual areas. However, each CNS works independently, leading to inconsistency in instructions and inefficiencies within the group.

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Using a learner needs assessment, a CNS-led team identified skills and education nurses on adult units needed facility-wide. These data were used to develop a 4-hour new hire nursing skills lab. New nurses participated in the lab the week after completing their general nursing orientation. The skills lab followed a standardized curriculum with didactic and hands-on activities in a clinical simulation laboratory.

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Pre- and postparticipation surveys measured nurses’ subject knowledge and comfort with skills included in the standardized curriculum. CNSs were surveyed to measure individual vs team work, also before and after the skills lab. An evaluation at 6 months was used to assess the effectiveness of the skills lab regarding staff function in their respective units.

Since January 2017, more than 180 newly hired nurses have attended the skills lab. Evaluations demonstrate that nurse confidence at the end of the probationary period was higher among those who participated in the skills lab than among those who did not.

The authors report that their “results demonstrate positive participant feedback, improved CNS role efficiency, and [fewer] practice variations at the point of care across the involved units.”


Margwarth J, Ambutas S, Gulczynski B. New hire skills standardization: putting the pieces together to decrease care variation and improve clinical nurse specialist role efficiency. Oral presentation at: NACNS 2018 Annual Conference; February 28-March 3, 2018; Austin, TX.