A Survey of Physical Assessment Techniques Performed by RNs: Lessons for Nursing Education

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

There is ongoing concern about the adequacy of the educational preparation of nursing graduates; at the same time, there is concern regarding excessive content within nursing curricula. The purpose of this study was to identify physical examination skills performed by practicing nurses to better understand the competencies needed by graduates of nursing programs. A sample of 193 nurses completed a survey indicating the frequency they performed various physical assessment techniques. Thirty skills routinely performed by nurses were identified; the remaining skills were reportedly performed occasionally or were not performed. The fact that only 30 skills were reportedly performed regularly by the sample raises questions about the depth at which examinations should be conducted in the clinical setting and the depth at which physical examination skills should be taught in nursing programs. Nurse educators should assess the skills currently taught in nursing programs and consider what skills graduates actually need to enter nursing practice.

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