On successful completion of nurse education programmes new graduate nurses are expected to meet the requirements for registration as a professional practitioner. Nurse educators need to collaborate with clinical colleagues to be responsive to changes in health care. Identifying challenging acute nursing episodes (CANE) that nurses¿ encounter in clinical practice and the aspect of competence that new graduate nurses require to manage these episodes effectively can inform undergraduate nursing curricula. Thus a qualitative, descriptive design was employed when undertaking a study to identify challenging acute nursing episodes which new graduates will encounter in clinical practice. Six focus groups were conducted in three university teaching hospitals in Ireland where a total of 28 registered nurses were recruited. Thematic analysis was used to extract themes from the focus group data. The results of this study identified 41 challenging acute nursing episodes and 4 key aspects of competence namely; patient assessment, technical/clinical skills; interactions and communications and clinical decision making. Findings of this study identify both the episodes which challenge new graduates and aspects of competence required by new graduates. These findings provide evidence for nurse educators to develop and deliver curricular content which is congruent with the realities of current day nursing practice.