Background: Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer each year in the United States. With skin cancer and the demand for nurse practitioners (NPs) in primary care both on the rise, an accurate assessment of how well NP students are being prepared to perform skin cancer assessments is needed. Patient outcomes are directly linked to early detection and treatment which is essential for all types of skin cancer, especially melanoma. Nurse Practitioners need to be able to recognize the early stages of malignancy versus benign skin lesions and perform accurate skin examinations. The ability to assess practitioners’ knowledge while they are still students will give us a better understanding of how well they are being prepared to perform skin cancer assessments in primary practice. This information will inform educators where improvement in skin cancer education is needed.

Methodology: Following IRB approval, nurse practitioner students enrolled in a gerontology course fall 2016 were invited to participate in this exploratory, descriptive study. Twenty NP students completed the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice of Skin Cancer Assessments (KAP-SCA) survey. The survey has 80 questions about lesion identification, knowledge of general skin facts, education in NP Program, and knowledge, attitudes, and confidence levels during skin care assessments. Descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages) were used to analyze demographics. Total scores and subscale scores for the KAP-SCA instrument were examined with descriptive statistics. Spearman’s Rho statistics were used for correlations among knowledge, attitude, training and practice.

Results: The typical NP student was female, age 31 years and enrolled in the family nurse practitioner program at UCF. The majority of NP students had an average knowledge score for general skin cancer knowledge and photo lesion identification questions. However, the majority (70%) of NP students did not agree that the dermatology training they received in their NP program prepared them for practice.

Discussion: Most NP students do not feel confident performing skin cancer assessments and basic dermatology procedures upon graduation. Most NP students had a difficult time differentiating between benign and malignant lesions, and would refer the patient to a specialist due to their lack of knowledge or confidence in diagnosis.

Conclusions: Information obtained from the KAP-SCA survey demonstrated that the majority of NP students lacked confidence performing skin cancer assessments and had difficulty recognizing if a lesion was benign or malignant. This information can be helpful in informing educators on where improvement in skin cancer education is needed in NP programs.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Loerzel, Victoria


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date

May 2018

Included in

Nursing Commons