Changes in the healthcare industry have created great challenges for leaders of acute-care organizations. One of the greatest challenges is ensuring a competent nursing staff to care for patients within this changing environment (Boylan & Westra, 1998). Patients are more acutely ill and have shorter lengths of stay, placing greater demands on nurses who must demonstrate competency in caring for increasingly complex patients in a continually changing healthcare environment.
Competency is defined as “the knowledge, skills, ability and behaviors that a person possesses in order to perform tasks correctly and skillfully” (O'Shea, 2002, p. 175).
Competency assessment involves more than a checklist and a test. Hospitals are required to assess, maintain, demonstrate, track, and improve the competence of the staff. Competency assessment is an ongoing process of initial development, maintenance of knowledge and skills, educational consultation, remediation, and redevelopment.
Methods to assess competencies include competency fairs, Performance Based Development System and online programs. Certain key people should be involved in the development of competencies. The department managers can give input related to department-specific competencies. Experienced staff members can provide valuable insight into the competencies that need to be assessed. Educators should be involved for providing the input for the methods used to validate competencies.
Competencies are an important part of the work world. They are a part of a continual process to help ensure that the organization provides a high-quality care to its customers and patients.