Core Competencies of Nurse Educators: Inspiring EXCELLENCE in Nurse Educator Practice

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The National League for Nursing Core Competencies of Nurse Educators with Task Statements provide a comprehensive framework for preparing new nurse educators, implementing the nurse educator role, evaluating nurse educator practice, and advancing faculty scholarship and lifelong professional development. This article describes how one nursing department uses the core competencies with current faculty and in a graduate program that prepares nurse educators.

Key Words Core Competencies - Electronic Portfolios - Faculty Evaluation - Nurse Educators - Standards of Practice

A STANDARDS OF PRACTICE FOR ACADEMIC NURSE EDUCATORS, the Core Competencies of Nurse Educators© with Task Statements, published by the National League for Nursing in 2005, inspire excellence and provide a comprehensive framework for the lifelong learning of faculty (1). As such, they can be used by nursing programs in a variety of ways. This article describes how the Department of Nursing at the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minnesota, has used these eight core competencies and 66 related task statements to guide the development of a graduate program that prepares nurse educators and to evaluate nurse educator practice. (See Figure.)

The core competencies are a valuable resource for nurse educators and have the potential to transform nursing education by inspiring excellence in nurse educator practice. It is paramount that these standards of practice are integrated in nurse educator curricula, faculty role descriptions, and evaluation processes. By using the core competencies of nurse educators in intentional and innovative ways, nurse educators are empowered to shape their own practice and advance the education and lifelong learning of all nurse educators, thus transforming the future of nursing education. Further, the competencies can be used to influence public policy efforts affecting nurse educators and nursing education and to identify scholarship and research priorities related to the nurse educator role (2).

Preparing New Nurse Educators Nurse educator curricula must address the core of knowledge and skills essential for effectiveness and excellence in the nurse educator role (3) and make transparent the scope and standards of nurse educator practice. The nurse educator curriculum in the master's program at the College of St. Catherine uses the core competencies of nurse educators as an integrating framework. Each nurse educator course specifically addresses one or more of the core competencies including curriculum design, assessment and evaluation, instructional technology, and designing systems to support change in nursing education.

A systematic focus on the core competencies ensures that students are prepared to function in each educator role component upon entry into practice. Using the publication The Scope of Practice for Academic Nurse Educators (4), students conduct interviews with experienced educators, discussing and learning about the scope and standards of nurse educator practice. This focus also positions graduates to take the examination for certified nurse educator (CNE) offered by the NLN.

The capstone project in the nurse educator curriculum is an electronic portfolio titled "Nurse Educator as Leader." Here, again, the core competencies are used as an organizing framework. For the completion of this portfolio, students reflect on the essence of each of the competencies in their practice; select evidence that demonstrates their knowledge and abilities for each competency; and project excellence based on their learning and professional goals.

The Nurse Educator as Leader portfolio is a presentation portfolio (5), that is, it presents evidence that may include assignments completed in nurse educator courses, examples of experiential learning, and documentation of participation in professional organizations and continuing education programs. Students are given a faculty-generated list of suggested evidence based on assignments and learning experiences completed during their nurse educator courses. …