Perceived readiness of occupational health nursing students to practice occupational health nursing according to South African Nursing Council competencies
Occupational health nursing (OHN) as a specialist area has become increasingly popular in South Africa for registered nurses. With developing legislation in South Africa regarding occupational health in the workplace, there is a growing need for occupational health nursing practitioners to be adequately prepared to practice according to the competencies set out by the South African Nursing Council on completion of their study programme. No significant research studies have been done on the perceived readiness of occupational health nursing practitioners to practice occupational health nursing in South Africa. The aim of the study was to explore the perceived readiness of the 2015 graduating OHN students to practice OHN. The study used a qualitative research approach, using an exploratory descriptive design. Purposive sampling was used to select participants who were enrolled in the occupational health nursing programme during their final year of study at a specific university in South Africa. Data were collected by means of in-depth interviews from participants and were analysed using thematic content analysis. Five major themes were identified: Perceived confidence to practice OHN; Readiness for the unique field of OHN; Readiness for professional and self development; Readiness for a leadership role in occupational health management; and Perceived readiness for a research role in OHN and future implications.The researcher concluded, on the basis of the findings, that occupational health nurse practitioners are generally ready to practice as competent and independent OHN professionals.