Original Research

Community service nurses’ experiences regarding their clinical competence

Kholofelo L. Matlhaba, Abel J. Pienaar, Leepile A. Sehularo
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 24 | a1284 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v24i0.1284 | © 2019 Kholofelo Lorraine Matlhaba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 January 2019 | Published: 21 October 2019

About the author(s)

Kholofelo L. Matlhaba, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Abel J. Pienaar, School of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Leepile A. Sehularo, School of Nursing Science, North-West University, Mahikeng, South Africa

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Background: In South Africa, it is mandatory for nurses who have qualified as a nurse (general, psychiatric and community) and midwifery, leading to registration in Government Gazette Notice No. R425 of 22 February 1985, to perform 12 months’ compulsory community service after completion of training at a College of Nursing. Community service affords new graduate nurses the opportunity to improve their clinical skills and knowledge while nurturing professional behavioural patterns and critical thinking consistent with the profession.

Aim: To explore and describe the experiences of community service nurses (CSNs) regarding clinical competence during their placement in three selected hospitals.

Setting: The study setting was North West Province (NWP), South Africa.

Method: This study followed a qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual research design. A cluster sampling technique was used and 17 CSNs participated in the study. Three focus group discussions framed by semi-structured questions were conducted with five to six participants per group. All discussions were recorded using a digital voice recorder and transcribed. Data were analysed using Pienaar’s four steps of qualitative thematic analysis.

Results: Four themes emerged from this study: facilitative experiences, defacilitative experiences, challenges confronted during placement and suggestions to improve clinical competence.

Conclusion: Clinical competence of CSNs could be improved if all the stakeholders, including professional nurses and CSNs themselves, hospital management and the regulatory body, the South African Nursing Council, collaborate. More importantly, this study’s results were used to develop a clinical competence evaluation tool in the NWP, South Africa.


clinical competence; community service; community service nurse; experiences; placement


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