Nursing Competency for New and Experienced Nurses

September 9th, 2014 by

new nurse in the fieldAs a registered nurse you are a licensed professional, but what makes you competent? You have a degree, a license declaring you are a nurse, and perhaps you had an exceptionally high grade point average in nursing school, but what else? Several elements are correlated to your skills and abilities; one element is experience.

A Year of Experience and the Role of Education

Various nursing organizations are studying how experience correlates to nursing competency, and in 2014, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCBSN) revised the definition of an entry-level nurse from a nurse having no more than 6 months experience to a nurse having no more than 12 months experience.

Because entry-level nurses begin their careers with zero experience, they rely heavily on education as a starting point for nursing competency; however, experienced and novice nurses alike must keep pace with technological advances in health-care, and continually educate themselves and review evidence-based nursing practices to maintain their skills. Also, experienced RNs are enrolling in RN to BSN courses and furthering their education in response to revised education requirements at health care facilities.

Working as a Nurse without a Year of Nursing Experience

Returning to the dilemma of new nurses without experience, establishing a level of competency begins with licensing. Passing the National Council Licensure Examination ensures that a nurse has “the minimum knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver safe, effective nursing care at the entry level” (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2014). But without the year of experience, how can the entry-level nurse feel competent? That is, he or she will be working as a nurse for a year and must feel competent and capable in providing care and communicating with patients during that time.

Competency is Predicated by Your Own Dedication

Elements of competency include the following:

  1. Maintaining a positive attitude toward education. The NCBSN recommends a year of experience for transitioning past entry-level nursing; however, after one year your education and pursuit of knowledge doesn’t end. The one year is not a “magical” period where you learn everything about nursing. You will constantly increase knowledge.
  2. Remembering the Peter Principle and seeking self-improvement. The Peter Principle basically states “workers who do well will keep getting promoted up the ladder until they reach a point where they can no longer excel. Then they stay stuck in that role, getting by with average-to-poor performance…” (Sreedhar, 2014). Constant self-evaluation and seeking evaluation from peers and co-workers can help you identify any areas to seek self-improvement.
  3. Practice. The adage “practice makes perfect” is more accurately stated as “perfect practice makes perfect.” If you continually practice something incorrectly, you will have lots of practice hours or experience but little actual proficiency. Don’t just rely on quantity of experience but quality of experience.
  4. Your own dedication and personal nursing philosophy. Consider why you want to be a nurse, the facility where you work, and the job duties and responsibilities related to your job. Determine the skills required and develop a plan to attain those skills; work on your skill plan daily.

Finally in gauging and refining your own competence, consider the following quote from Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead:

“It’s easy to run to others. It’s so hard to stand on one’s own record. You can fake virtue for an audience. You can’t fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is your strictest judge. They run from it. They spend their lives running. It’s easier to donate a few thousand to charity and think oneself noble than to base self-respect on personal standards of personal achievement. It’s simple to seek substitutes for competence–such easy substitutes: love, charm, kindness, charity. But there is no substitute for competence.”

About the Author

Marian Henderson is currently a Graduate RN. She has volunteered at a long-term care facility and received 196 clinical hours of RN training; in addition she has a technical diploma in Health Information Technology from the American Business and Technology University. She loves sharing helpful information and tips for new nurses.

Works Cited

National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2014). A Review of Entry-Level Nurse Characteristics and the NCLEX. Chicago: NCBSN.

Perez-Pena, R. (2012, June 3). More Stringent Requirements Send Nurses back to School. New York Times, p. 1.

Sreedhar, S. (2014, March 5). How to Overcome the Peter Principle in IT. Forbes.

References

Perez-Pena, R. (2012, June 3). More Stringent Requirements Send Nurses back to School. New York Times, p. 1.

 

 

About the Author:

Marian Henderson

Marian Henderson is currently a Graduate RN. She has volunteered at a long-term care facility and received 196 clinical hours of RN training; in addition she has a technical diploma in Health Information Technology from the American Business and Technology University. She loves sharing helpful information and tips for new nurses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*