Nursing competencies encompass the skills, knowledge and abilities required to practice nursing. Differentiation exists in competencies among practicing nurses at various levels and settings. Competencies develop over time and are measurable.
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A nursing program of study teaches core competencies for nursing practice. These core competencies include nursing knowledge, professionalism and ethics, leadership, communication, teamwork and collaboration, safety, quality improvement and evidenced-based practice.
The acquisition of nursing competence is not a static process. It develops over time as the nurse gains additional knowledge and expertise. The NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Exam, measures minimum competency for licensing in the state of practice. All new nursing graduates in the United States take the NCLEX.
As a nurse gains expertise in a specific area of practice, opportunities become available to validate and demonstrate the acquired level of competence by way of certification or accreditation. The American Nurses Association, for example, offers a number of certification exams for nursing specialities, including nursing administration.
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