Physician reviewing standards with a newly hired nurse

Standardizing Competency Validation

The Joint Commission requires healthcare organizations to assess the competence of new hires and staff on an ongoing basis. As they give no guidance as to how to accomplish this it is the responsibility of the healthcare organization to determine what is a competency, how it should be assessed, and how often.

However, as important as regulatory agencies are standardizing and validating competency is not about satisfying the regulatory agencies. Competency validation is about ensuring positive patient outcomes by providing safe and efficient care (Wright, 2011).

Because, competency standardization and validation are time-consuming and require additional fiscal outlay, be sure you know what the motivation is to perform standardization. Standardizing for the wrong reasons, will not ensure lasting results (Wright, 2011).

Competency is how adept one is at performing a job or task. Competence is the knowledge and skill needed to complete a job or task. It is essential healthcare facilities have competent nurses who have been competency validated on the skills used daily (Beaver, et al., 2019).

Competency standardization begins by identifying the skills that are performed throughout the facility. Once a list is compiled it is time to determine which skills can be performed without a requisite knowledge base, such as measuring intake and output or other skills that were learned in nursing school. The higher-level skills, which require a knowledge base and a skill set now become competencies for validation (Beaver, et al., 2019).

Competency standardization requires that all skills performed throughout the hospital are assessed and performed in the same manner by everyone. Those skills that are unique to a unit or a specific population need to be standardized within those parameters.

Not all competencies need to be assessed in the same manner, e.g. by direct observation, skills checklist, or knowledge assessment. Each facility should have a variety of methods for validation to encourage staff participation (Wright, 2011).

Once the initial work surrounding the building of competency validation occurs the facility must determine if there are core competencies that need to be assessed more frequently than others. Competency validation usually means that the nurse has the skill and knowledge to do the task and will not need to be reevaluated on that skill unless the nurse does not perform adequately in the future. The low-volume high-risk skills should be evaluated on a routine basis to ensure competence. The competencies for validation should be determined each year Wright, 2011).

Having competent nurses perform safe and efficient patient care is essential to good patient outcomes. A fluid and flexible standardized competency validation platform will help ensure the facility can enhance basic knowledge and encourage further growth.