Defining 'competency' in nursing (Part I): a policy review

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SummaryHow the nursing profession in England defines the basic competency of the registered general nurse is crucial for the safety of the patient and the protection of the nurse. It is also essential for determining advanced practice, extended practice and specialist practice in nursing.An historical overview of documentation from the United Kingdom Central Council for Midwifery and Health Visiting, the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting and the Royal College of Nursing shows a profound change in educational policy during the 1980s regarding the interpretation of nursing competency.The effects of this policy change on the current methods developed to define, teach and test nursing competency are examined.Preliminary conclusions show shortcomings and uncertainty in the present preparation and evaluation of nursing competency.

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