AIM: To investigate how graduates of a Nurse Specialist Education in Community and Primary Healthcare Nursing programme self-assess their competencies and possibilities to translate knowledge into practice.
METHODS: A mixed methods design based on the triangulation convergence model was used. Thirty-four community nurse specialists, who had graduated from a Nurse Specialist Education in Community and Primary Healthcare Nursing programme, participated in a cross-sectional survey and of these; seven nurses participated in a semi-structured interview. Data from the survey were analysed using descriptive statistics and data from the interviews underwent a thematic analysis. All results were combined and compared according to the study design.
FINDINGS: The combined comparison of the results from the survey and the findings from the interviews showed, how the community nurse specialists self-assessed their competencies in direct clinical practice, professional development, ethical decision-making, clinical leadership, cooperation and collaboration, and critical thinking as high. However, they experienced very few opportunities to translate their new knowledge in practice due to low alignment between the statutory purpose of the education and their own expectations.
CONCLUSIONS: Competent clinical nurses working in community care settings who completed an education in advanced community care experienced few opportunities to use their new knowledge in practice. The community nurse specialists' expectations of how to use their new knowledge in practice after graduation does not align with the statutory order of the specialist education, which is directed towards combining direct and specialised patient care with coordination of care trajectories for the most fragile patients. It is important to include the managers in coordination of the community nurse specialists' usage of their new knowledge in practice.