Nursing is a field that requires precision and attentiveness, with people’s health, care and quality of life in the nurses’ hands. As the culture in the profession continues to shift towards optimal healthcare delivery, there is an increasing need for competency-based education practices.
Competency-based education has been developed to equip students in the field with the adequate knowledge needed to grow professionally in a way that they can deliver the best possible results in their careers. This approach has sparked a new wave of innovation in the field and could be the key to high-quality healthcare services.
This article discussed what competency-based education entails in nursing and how it could significantly accelerate competency and skills development for nurses in the field.
Overview of competency-based education (CBE) in nursing
Competency-based education is an approach to learning that depends more on how much students can demonstrate their competency in practice. It’s a process that is more about the result and tailoring the learning process to student’s individual differences rather than traditional rigid learning processes. This learning process helps make knowledge-gaining explicit, assisting students in understanding their competencies and walking them toward achieving their potential at their own pace.
The overall concept of competency-based education focuses on how much students are able to demonstrate what they’ve learned from their studies. This model of learning is no different in the nursing field.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, competency-based education in nursing is “a system of instruction, evaluation, self-reflection, and academic reporting” focused on students demonstrating knowledge and proving they have gained the skills, information, attitudes, and motivations required of them as they advance in their education.
This model of learning exists to help clarify and improve nursing’s essential role in healthcare delivery and also boost the practicality of the skills new nurses learn while they become a part of the workforce.
This mode of learning shifted the nature of learning in the field from a rigid traditional approach to one where there is room for creativity, exploration, feedback, depth, corrections and many more. The general belief is that CBE will bring in opportunities for new graduates to possess the potential skills needed to provide high-quality care in healthcare systems.
Basic principles of competency-based education
The basis of competency-based education is about the outcome, as it shifts learning away from the inputs and more into individualized “learning processes”. Below are some of the basic principles of an ideal competency-based learning approach in nursing education.
This is the first of the significant learning principles in a competency-based setting. CBE focuses on a supportive system where students get to learn at their pace, with opportunities for collaboration, peer feedback, individualized learning practices, and interactions to enhance holistic understanding and teamwork. CBE is shifting learning towards a collaborative-centric model and giving support to achieve competence in the field.
Another major principle CBE operates on is an individualized model of learning and how to meet the diverse needs of learners and help them achieve their career goals. In a competency-based teaching approach, education is specifically tailored to each student’s pace, strong suits, and prior experience, allowing them to progress as they demonstrate proficiency.
Feedback and self-reflection
We’ve established how much CBE focuses on helping students achieve their learning objectives rather than forcing them onto a strict and rigid curriculum. In a bid for this approach to be more inclusive and effective, feedback and self-reflection are major elements it takes into consideration. Ultimately, it allows students to improve, refine their skills, and build toward competence.
Benefits of competency-based education
Nursing education varies greatly across the country and with some recent controversy concerning the readiness of nurses in the field, workforce demand, skills and competency, there is a need for standardization and support to continue to preserve the reputation and quality of this essential profession. All of these challenges have prompted CBE as a workable solution to better results. Here are some benefits of competency-based education as an approach toward a better learning environment.
Learning at your pace
Traditional learning systems have focused more on time constraints and one size fits all models. On the contrary, CBE works with a system tailored to individual reality. This includes the elimination of unnecessary constraints towards learning. It’s an advantage to get a nursing degree at your pace and enjoy the fluidity that comes with such a process. Competency-based programs, especially in online teaching settings, often provide resources, materials, and assessments that allow learners to study independently, giving them control of their own learning journey.
A typical example is taking an online ABSN program and building towards your nursing career at a steady pace. An online ABSN program, such as the one offered at Baylor University, allows students to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in nursing, with an in-depth curriculum into the foundations of practice and the complex care needs that will need to be handled within nursing.
Gather hands of experiences
Another major benefit to competency-based learning in nursing is that all of your knowledge gets to be put into practice. It requires consistent assessment, most of which would also include clinical experiences. The program requires students to complete a set of competencies on subjects including healthcare policy, patient care technologies, leadership and management in nursing, and best practices and trends in nursing.
This could be a training ground for individuals to learn what will be required from them as professionals in their field. Competency-based learning often emphasizes the practical application of skills, which can ultimately enhance understanding, engagement, and experiences.
The shift towards CBE in nursing
Although CBE provides many solutions to most of the prevailing challenges in the field, it also requires dedication and hard work to accomplish. It requires consistent assessment and a more structured curriculum for implementation. However, if properly mitigated, it could yield the best results, particularly because it answers specific questions on how to support learners, optimize their competency rate, and meet their needs at every point.