How to use performance evaluation tools in nursing

Written by ruth mayhew
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How to use performance evaluation tools in nursing
Nursing occupations may require a variety of performance evaluation tools. (operation nurse image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from

Performance evaluation tools are essential to maintaining a workplace where quality patient care is an organisation's most important goal. The Joint Commission publication, "Strategies for Addressing the Evolving Nursing Crisis," uncovers the underlying reason why nursing occupations especially need competency-based performance measurement tools: "The empowerment of staff nurses, in turn, acknowledges their role in making real-time, critical decisions at the point of care." Hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities use a number of different evaluation tools and methods to ensure optimum nursing standards.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Evaluate the size of your nursing work force. In health care facilities such as small clinics and physician offices, you may be able to use narrative and essay performance evaluation tools. This performance evaluation method encourages detailed, in-depth assessment of a nurse's performance. While time-consuming, narrative and essay performance evaluations can fully address performance standards in a manner not always easily accomplished through other performance methods like graphic rating scales.

    The narrative and essay method can also encourage managers and their employees to engage in two-way discussions about performance standards, nursing achievements and professional goals and development. Nurse managers who conduct narrative and essay performance evaluations must have a high level of expertise to evaluate their employees in areas such as clinical procedures, health care regulations and delivery of quality patient care.

  2. 2

    Analyse employee opinion survey results for input from nurses on the type of performance evaluation tools they believe are most appropriate for addressing their contributions to the workplace. Employee opinion surveys are instruments that provide human resources experts with valuable information. An individual employee may not offer unsolicited feedback about performance evaluation methods. However, if you design a survey for the specific purpose of gaining insight about performance evaluations, the results can very useful. Utilising employee opinion surveys requires a great deal of time and effort, but the return on investment can influence performance and improve job satisfaction.

    Employee opinion surveys administered in hospitals and other health care facilities shed light on nursing issues, such as nurse-patient ratios, and collegial relationships with physicians and ancillary health professionals. This type of input can be valuable in developing performance standards as well as an effective performance evaluation tool.

  3. 3

    Develop peer evaluations and self-assessments to augment your existing performance evaluation tool. Obtaining information from nurses' peers is an excellent way to implement objectivity to the performance evaluation process. This method requires extensive training, however. Employees with minimal experience in providing feedback on performance must learn how to evaluate colleagues in a fair and impartial manner. Self-assessments, when used properly, can train nurses to recognise strengths, areas for improvement and professional goals. Nurses who aspire to health care careers in nursing administration, education or nurse practitioner roles are often those who have long identified their career goals.

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