Can you identify competency assessors by title? Let’s look at the following common job titles that may carry with them the responsibility for competency assessment:
Nurse managers, supervisors, and preceptors. The ability to perform competency assessment is an integral role of nursing leadership in long-term care. A preceptor is an excellent method to promote a successful orientation of new employees. The essential qualities needed by competency assessors are also key leadership attributes. These qualities include:
- Possessing excellent clinical skills or, in non- clinical roles, excellence in job-specific skills
- Demonstrating respect for colleagues
- Acting as an excellent role model
- Demonstrating outstanding interpersonal communication skills
To increase the efficiency of training delivery and orientation, consider inviting staff members who need to be trained as competency assessors to a class that offers training in competency assessment. Directors of nursing (DON) are generally not the best people to assess clinical competency. In today’s healthcare environment, DONs spend most of their time performing administrative duties such as staffing, budgeting, developing leadership, and handling performance issues. However, their expertise in these areas makes them able to validate such competencies in their nursing leadership team. DONs rely on their staff members to possess clinical expertise, just as staff members rely on the DON for administrative expertise. Remember that to assess clinical competency properly, the evaluator must be able to demonstrate excellence in clinical skills. Most DONs in long-term care will be able to demonstrate these clinical skills but are not the ones delivering the care on a daily basis. DONs assess the supervisory and leadership skill competency of their nurse management team.
Staff development coordinators are the education experts in a long-term care facility. They must demonstrate competency in the adult education and clinical skills arenas. Such competencies as program planning, teaching, and evaluating the effectiveness of education are essential to those who specialize in staff development.
Staff development specialists work with management and the staff to design the organization’s entire competency assessment pro- gram in addition to the program’s training component. They provide the educational expertise that makes for a sound foundation for any competency program. But like anyone who is responsible for assessing competency, staff development specialists must be competent in the skills they evaluate.
Staff nurses. Nurses who demonstrate the necessary skills may also be part of a competency assessment program. However, it is important that they receive the necessary training. Depending on the arrangement of your clinical ladder or other similar programs, you may choose to have competency assessment as part of the requirements for promotion.
CNAs. Can you think of exceptionally competent CNAs in your organization? Training such CNAs to assess the competency of their peers is a definite possibility. As you develop a promotional ladder for CNAs, consider training those who are exceptional to participate in competency assessment.
Nonclinical staff. Most healthcare organizations have competency assessment programs in place for clinical and nonclinical areas. As your competency program develops and expands, don’t forget to be on the lookout for nonclinical staff members who have what it takes to assess the competency of others in areas such as fire safety.