Pursuing a career within healthcare means that you will be involved in work that will bring you into contact with people who may be at their most vulnerable. Nursing is not only hugely rewarding, but it also comes with considerable responsibility and accountability. Everyone performing that role must uphold the highest standards of care at all times. Failure to maintain competence may impact patient safety, leading to an erosion of confidence and trust.
Competence is described as a system of skills, knowledge, practical experience and personal qualities that signal an individual’s ability to undertake successful activities in a particular area.
The set of criteria that nurses are expected to maintain in order to give their patients the best standard of care possible is referred to as nursing competencies and broadly covers the elements of professional values, nursing practice and decision-making, leadership, team working and management.
The professional competencies of a nurse encompass patient care, professionalism, system-based practice, medical and clinical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, and interpersonal and communication skills. It includes such things as responsibility, accuracy, compassion, patient tolerance, discipline and neatness.
It is also important for nurses to be confident in their own abilities, both technical and interpersonal, in order to build relationships with their patients.
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In order to understand nursing competencies, it is useful to define what nursing actually is. According to the American Nurses Association, it is a “highly specialized profession, which is constantly evolving to address the needs of society”. A nurse could be involved in public health in many ways, including direct care, diagnosis, research and education, and in all of these, they must understand and become educated in the competencies they need to follow.
The responsibilities of a nurse vary depending on where they work and if they specialize in a certain field. For example, registered nurses (RNs) provide critical healthcare to the public in a variety of settings and could be performing physical exams, taking health histories and then making decisions based on what they find, administering medications and other interventions, or coordinating care in collaboration with other healthcare workers.
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) will hold a master’s degree and may be providing primary and preventative healthcare, diagnosing and treating illnesses, managing chronic disease, and advising the public on health issues. They could also be certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists dealing with a range of both physical and mental health problems, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.
Licensed practical nurses (LPN) support core health teams and work under the supervision of RNs, APRNs or MDs, and provide basic and routine care such as changing bandages, administering some medications, and checking vital signs and monitoring patients.
How Nursing Competencies Are Measured
Nursing competencies are constantly evolving but currently include giving effective feedback, developing a systematic approach to establishing and managing milestones, measuring outcomes, and providing modular training specific to each competency. In addition, there is an emphasis on outcomes and defined levels of proficiency using an integrated model that includes both practice and education.
Achieving and monitoring competence is the responsibility of individual nurses, the profession, regulatory agencies, employers, professional organizations, and crediting and certification entities.
Self-education And Development
Throughout a nurse’s working life – from taking their first exams to undertaking further education and specific courses required by their employer – education is vital. Self-education and development are also a key way to ensure that nurses are up to date on their nursing competencies, and they should be able to determine where they need to improve their knowledge and follow this through by self-study and reading relevant literature and online resources. It’s also key for nurses to look after their health and wellbeing so that they are able to be their best selves at work. This should be encouraged by senior nurses and other management, and they will also be able to provide advice and guidance to help formulate a self-study plan for their team members.
Nursing education has changed over the years, responding to the evolving nature of the profession, and modern nursing expects those working within it to obtain extensive training and training. The definition of what makes a nurse competent has also changed to mirror new expectations and will inevitably continue to do so.
Getting The Right Qualifications
Gaining the right qualifications to enable you to pursue your chosen career in nursing is the first part of your healthcare journey. The accelerated BSN online at Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing provides an intensive full-time program that includes online courses, hybrid interactive learning, and clinical and lab experiences. The course is available to students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline and can be completed in one year.
Once you have obtained your qualification, the prospects for employment are very positive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, there were more RNs than other nurses, and from that date to 2028, approximately 371,500 jobs are expected to be added. This is the third-largest number of any occupation. Nurse practitioners are expected to have the fastest rate of employment growth, and are projected to be one of the 10 fastest-growing occupations within the economy as a whole up until 2028.
This rate of growth is partly because of the emphasis placed on preventative care as well as the rising rates of chronic conditions and an aging population.
Nurses can work in a variety of settings, including doctor’s offices, schools and hospitals, as well as outpatient care centers, physician’s offices and home healthcare. The basics of nursing competencies will remain the same wherever they are placed, but there will be specific requirements and nuances depending on the requirements of the job and the people who are being looked after and treated. Therefore, it is essential that the competencies are clearly defined and monitored, both by the nurse themselves and their employers.