Part of Florence Nightingale’s legacy is the idea that nurses should use their brains, hearts, and hands in patient care. A recent change in accreditation standards for some nursing programs is bringing nursing education closer to that philosophy. The changes require programs to more closely align workforce needs with what students learn by emphasizing competency-based education (CBE). 

Defining CBE

CBE focuses on the competencies — knowledge, skills, and behaviors — learners gain rather than where, how, or how long it took to acquire the abilities. CBE is a learner-centered model that ties the competencies in a program to what is needed for a specific career and often gives learners more opportunities to practice those competencies in real-life environments.

CBE in Nursing

The clinical component of traditional nursing programs is already very similar to a CBE model. Students take the knowledge they developed in theory-based classes and apply it to patient care under the guidance of experts. With the updated accreditation rules, there is a greater requirement to provide students with opportunities to apply their skills before they enter a clinical setting.

There are more than 40 core competencies across 10 domains, with many sub-competencies required of nursing programs. Some of the competencies students are expected to demonstrate include:

  • Demonstrate clinical judgment founded on a broad knowledge base.
  • Develop a plan of care.
  • Consider the socioeconomic impact of the delivery of health care.
  • Integrate best evidence into nursing practice.

Nursing programs need to adopt ways for students to learn these competencies as well as demonstrate them. That could include adopting project-based learning, case studies, and experiential learning. Some specific activities could include:

  • Interviewing nurse practitioners about a particular topic.
  • Developing a community health plan.
  • Creating a storyboard for a documentary about a particular health topic. 

CBE Transformation for Nursing Programs

As educators and nurses, you know that mastering these competencies is key to your students’ success. Determining course competencies can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. We help nursing programs tackle the transition to competency-based education. Using readiness assessments, training workshops, and comprehensive program and curriculum services, we leverage user-centered design to create a suite of CBE curriculum, assessments, and learning activities. We’ve partnered with many institutions using this process, including the Michael O. Levitt School of Health, which produces about one in six of all graduating nurses in the U.S. 

To learn more about aligning nursing competencies to your curriculum with CBE, check out our other blogs in this series that share the key questions you need to ask when transitioning to a CBE.

Ready for CBE transformation? Connect with our learning experience design team to get started! Contact us today