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Core Competencies for Nursing

Updated April 27, 2018

The phrase "core competencies in nursing" refers to a standard set of performance "domains" in which it is necessary to demonstrate proficiency to enter into professional practice. In the U.S., the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) identifies these competencies for more than 90% of the national nursing practitioner education programs, as well as several in the UK and Canada. The latest guide to domains and competencies was released in 2006.

Management of Patient Health/Illness Status

This domain consists of demonstrating competence in applying critical thinking skills to assess and prioritise patients in a clinical setting, provide diagnosis through screening, examination and differentiation, as well as offer guidance and counselling to patients. In addition, the nurse practitioner (NP) is expected to identify community resources related to rehabilitative services and follow-up care.

Nurse Practitioner-Patient Relationship

The NP should be able to communicate effectively with patients to facilitate an environment of trust and confidentiality while maintaining a professional demeanour at all times. The NP must also be able to act collaboratively with patients and other caregivers to achieve a managed-care plan that respects individual preferences and retains the patient's right to make decisions about his or her health care.

Teaching-Coaching Function

This domain relates to the ability to evaluate and further the educational needs of individual patients by providing individual coaching and personalised learning plans in a supportive environment.

Professional Role

As a contributing member of various health care teams, the NP must exhibit leadership qualities to advance safe care practices, promote patient advocacy and endorse collaborative efforts between the NP and other care providers in a manner that demonstrates adherence to professional and ethical standards.

Managing and Negotiating Health Care Delivery Systems

The NP must participate in managing and enhancing various health care delivery systems that impact patient care in terms of quality, scope and cost-effectiveness. In addition, the NP must demonstrate a willingness to explore new technologies and procedures that affect care delivery, as well as measures to modify or improve existing systems.

Monitoring and Ensuring the Quality of Health Care Practice

The competencies considered in this domain include active participation in monitoring and improving the quality of care.

Culturally-Sensitive Care

The NP must demonstrate the ability to acknowledge cultural diversity and actively incorporate the core values and beliefs of various cultures into the patient's managed-care plan without forming or enforcing a personal bias. In addition, the NP must consider the spiritual needs of individual patients and their families.

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About the Author

Karyn Maier is a seasoned columnist and feature writer. Since 1992, her work has appeared in Mother Earth News, The Herb Quarterly, Better Nutrition and in many other print and digital publications. She is also the author of five books, and is published in six languages.