Creative ways to check competencies

Nurse Leader Insider, January 2, 2020

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It is important to realize that there are numerous ways to validate competencies. One of the most common methods is the skills checklist. However, there are many other ways that competence can be validated. Take the following strategies into account:

  • Observations of daily work, such as patient rounds or medical-record reviews, can be a means of validating competency. Specific interactions or skills can be directly observed as someone performs his or her work, and patient outcomes/documentation can be observed. This provides an opportunity for multiple observations and addresses one of the problems with checklists, which usually gather data from only one observation of a task. When staff members know they are being observed, they have a tendency to go through all the steps correctly when they might not normally do so.
  • Peer review is another method of validating competency. It incorporates feedback from as many people who interact with a staff member as is feasible. For a nurse, these people might include peers, nursing assistants, representatives of other disciplines, and his or her manager. The use of different sources of information and different measures to evaluate competence increases validity.
  • Simulated events, such as mock codes, can also be used to validate competency. For example, the instructor can use a mannequin in a bed to describe scenarios and ask the participants to respond appropriately. This provides an opportunity for practice and demonstration of skills in a non-threatening environment. Another example is the use of volunteers as simulated patients for staff to perform assessments or demonstrate various noninvasive skills. There are also various simulators that provide a realistic environment for demonstration of skills, but these can be costly.

Editor's note: The above excerpt is from the online course "Nursing CE Series: Assessing Competencies." Check out our latest nursing resources here.

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