schools also have embraced the notion of competency-based education, as noted earlier in the chapter in the case study on the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (Box 4-2). In addition, Western Governors University uses competency-based education exclusively, allowing nursing students to move through their program of study at their own pace. Mastery of the competency is achieved to the satisfaction of the faculty without the normal time-bound semester structure (IOM, 2010).

Defining Core Competencies

The value of competency-based education in nursing is that it can be strongly linked to clinically based performance expectations. It should be noted that “competencies” here denotes not task-based proficiencies but higher-level competencies that represent the ability to demonstrate mastery over care management knowledge domains and that provide a foundation for decision-making skills under variety of clinical situations across all care settings.

Numerous sets of core competencies for nursing education are available from a variety of sources. It has proven difficult to establish a single set of competencies that cover all clinical situations, across all settings, for all levels of students. However, there is significant overlap among the core competencies that exist because many of them are derived from such landmark reports as Recreating Health Professional Practice for a New Century (O’Neil and Pew Health Professions Commission, 1998) and Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality (IOM, 2003b). The competencies in these reports focus on aspects of professional behavior (e.g., ethical standards, cultural competency) and emphasize areas of care (e.g., prevention, primary care), with overarching goals of (1) providing patient-centered care, (2) applying quality improvement principles, (3) working in interprofessional teams, (4) using evidence-based practices, and (5) using health information technologies.

Two examples of sets of core competencies come from the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education16 and the AACN. The former set features competencies that promote nurses’ abilities in such areas as clinical judgment and critical thinking; evidence-based practice; relationship-centered care; interprofessional collaboration; leadership; assistance to individuals and families in self-care practices for promotion of health and management of chronic illness; and teaching, delegation, and supervision of caregivers. The AACN’s set of competencies is outlined in Essentials for Baccalaureate Education and highlights such areas as “patient-centered care, interprofessional teams, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, patient safety, informatics, clinical reasoning/critical thinking, genetics and genomics, cultural sensitivity, professionalism, practice across the lifespan, and end-of-life care” (AACN, 2008b). While students appear to gradu-

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