What establishes an excellent nurse? A focus group and Delphi panel approach

Wolter Paans, Patricia Robbe, Inge Wijkamp, Marca Wolfensberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Over the past few years, the complexity of the health care system in which nurses are required to practice has increased considerably, magnifying the need for excellent professionals with a specific set of knowledge, skills and attitudes. However, the characteristics that distinguish an excellent nurse have not yet been clarified.

The aim of this study was to determine nurses’ perspectives regarding characteristics associated with an excellent nurse in order to elicit a conceptual profile.

A focus group design followed by Delphi panel content validation was utilized. Information regarding nurses’ perspectives was derived from six focus group discussions comprising 19 nurses involved in hospital practice and 24 nurses with experience in mental health care. The analysis of the focus group discussions resulted in nine domains whereby content validity was achieved with contributions from a Delphi panel survey with 26 professionals.

As determined by the survey, a combination of these specified aspects characterize an excellent nurse: analytical, communicative, cooperative, coordinating, disseminates knowledge, empathic, evidence-driven, innovative and introspective.

Determining what establishes an excellent nurse according to experienced nurses is valuable as this information can influence the broadening curriculum for educating future nurses to meet the needs in the professional field, contributing to the quality of care. This conceptual profile can be used as a reference guide for supervisors and professionals to personally improve their clinical practice as well as for education.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • delphi panels
  • nursing care
  • focus groups
  • excellence
  • education


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