Continuing Competence is the ongoing ability of a nurse or midwife to integrate and apply the knowledge, skills, judgment and personal attributes required to practise safely and ethically in a designated role and setting. It is essential to professional nursing practice because it contributes to the quality of patient outcomes and to the evidence base for nursing practice.
It is enhanced through life long learning and is a shared responsibility between Individual nurses and midwives, professional and regulatory nursing organisations, employers, educational institutions and governments
Competence is the combination of skills, knowledge, attitudes, values and abilities that underpin effective and/or superior performance in a profession/occupational area and context of practice. Continuing competence is the ability of nurses and midwives to demonstrate that they have maintained their competence to practice in relation to their context of practice, and the relevant ANMC competency standards under which they gain and retain their license to practice. (ANMC 2009)
Continuing Competence requires nurses and midwives to reflect on their practice through self-regulation, which includes continuing professional development, self-assessment, critical analysis and evaluation of learning.
Using this approach nurses and midwives are able to formalise their evidence of competence on a regular and ongoing basis and record this evidence in a validated and credible way (when required).
Continuing competence contributes to the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of nursing and midwifery practice. It enables nurses and midwives to base their practice on current and strongest evidence necessary to produce high quality client/woman outcomes. Further it assists in minimising risk and sub standard practice and acts to further ensure protection of the public. (CNA 2000)
To practice safely and competently, nurses and midwives comply with professional standards, base their practice on relevant evidence, adhere to the Code of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct for Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives and continually acquire new competencies in their area of practice. One way nurses and midwives can obtain, maintain and enhance their competence is through continuous learning using both formal and informal methods.
Continuous learning requires nurses and midwives to reflect on their competencies in relation to the changes occurring in society and the health care environment and, as a result of that reflection, take action to acquire and develop new competencies. Continuing education develops and enhances competencies significantly.
- ANMC Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council Continuing Competence Framework February 2009
- CNA Canadian Nursing Association A national framework for continuing competence for registered nurses (2000)