National Validation of the NACNS Clinical Nurse Specialist Core Competencies

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Abstract

Purpose:

To validate the 75 core National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists' (NACNS) clinical nurse specialist (CNS) competencies among practicing CNSs. Specific aims were to (a) determine the extent to which 75 core CNS competencies were used in current CNS practice, (b) determine the importance of those competencies to practicing CNSs, and (c) identify gaps between CNS core competencies and role expectations in current practice.

Design:

A survey design was used with both paper-and-pencil and online instruments. The survey included 150 items and three open-ended questions.

Methods:

A convenience sampling method was used, which targeted practicing CNSs.

Findings:

Respondents (N=505) were practicing CNSs who entered the field as RNs between 1956 and 2006. The survey had a high degree of internal consistency reliability (0.967%) between the subscales. The 75 NACNS core competencies were found to be useful and important for CNSs. A few gaps were identified between CNS core competencies and CNS role expectations in current practice.

Conclusions:

No one method for validating competencies will be satisfactory for all situations; however, the processes and methods used in this study were well suited to accomplish the goal of validating CNS core competencies. The process described here may be instructive to leaders of other national and international professional organizations interested in developing and evaluating competencies. Core competencies are useful and important to currently practicing CNSs.

Clinical Relevance:

The CNS role is growing internationally. Core CNS competencies can be a framework for CNS role development, education, and practice. As described here, a competency validation survey is one way to assure that CNSs are meeting healthcare needs.

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