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Nursing Core Competencies: Comparison and Implementation

Comparison of Core Competencies

Nursing professionals have different core competencies depending on the peculiarities of their profession. A lot of diverse features can be found when comparing those competencies that are developed for a nurse practitioner (NP) and for a nurse administrator.

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Differences can be observed already when focusing on the organization of competencies. Those that relate to a family NP are divided into areas related to a “scientific foundation, leadership, quality, practice inquiry, technology, and information literacy, policy, health delivery system, ethics, and independence practice” (NP Schools, n.d., para. 3). Each category includes several competencies related to it. Those that are developed for a nurse administrator, on the other hand, are divided into five domains: “communication and relationship management, knowledge of the health care environment, leadership, professionalism, and business skills and principles” (AONE, 2015, p. 3).

It can be seen that in both cases, there are similar competencies, such as those related to leadership. In addition to that, professionalism includes those principles outlined in NP’s ethics and practice. Thus, it can be claimed that regardless of general diversity, those nurses that provide direct and indirect care have similar competencies. However, attention should be paid to other areas also. For instance, business skills are not critical for a family NP, because this professional is focused on practice with patients. It is significant to consider the improvement of healthcare in the framework of technology use and ways to provide patient-centered care. A nurse administrator, on the other hand, should pay more attention to management and governance.

When generalizing obtained information, it can be claimed that those competencies that deal with practical activities of family NPs are aligned with the theoretical knowledge that should be considered by nurse administrators when they perform their duties. Similarly, practices of nurse administrators are based on the theoretical knowledge that reveals those competencies that are used by NPs to work with patients directly.

Implementation of Competencies

As nursing competencies seem to be developed from the same amount of knowledge that is practiced differently, it can be presupposed that the main difference lies in the way they implement their competencies in practice.

In the framework of leadership competencies, for instance, a family NP needs to be able to initiate and guide changes, improving collaboration between stakeholders. A nurse administrator is supposed to lead the organization, focusing on change management as well (AONE, 2017). In this way, both professionals need to reveal mutual respect and shared values so that their followers can learn by their example.

They should adapt to diverse collectives in order to appeal to different people and make them follow particular views. They are to care about team performance instead of personal achievement and facilitate the development of particular practices. Still, an NP should align these actions with care delivery while a nurse administrator needs to pay more attention to succession planning and organizing of the personnel.

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What is more, a nurse administrator needs to perform financially, human resource, strategic, and informational management. According to these competencies, a professional is expected to cope with lots of things that seem to have nothing in common with nursing. For instance, they need to have enough knowledge and skills to develop an annual expenditure plan, manage financial resources, participate in workforce planning, develop recruitment, conduct SWOT analysis and identify marketing opportunities, etc.

Even though an NP does not maintain such actions, this professional performs his/her duties under their influence. For example, he/she can use only those resources that are provided by a nurse administrator. Patient care that is performed by an NP is limited by a nurse administrator, as he/she shares financial implications related to this area with NPs. Those activities that are maintained by an NP are aligned with core competencies that deal with more specialized practices.

They are less associated with other disciplines and focused on patient care instead. For instance, they are to provide “the full spectrum of health care services to include health promotion, disease prevention, health protection, anticipatory guidance, counseling, disease management, palliative, and end-of-life care” (National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, 2013, p. 15). In this way, an NP is to work with clients directly, examining their condition, educating them, and providing assistance and treatment services.

Taking into consideration the information mentioned above, it can be considered that nurse administrators provide care to patients through NPs. They define the scope of practice and limit those activities NPs can maintain through the control of resources. What is more, those decisions that are made by nurse administrators are more general than those made by NPs. In the majority of cases, they affect all nurses in the same way, which means that their influence on patients is not variable. On the contrary, NPs provide direct care that differs from client to client depending on one’s characteristics and needs. While the general framework remains the same, they need to implement individual changes for the care to be patient-centered. Nursing administrators focus on the performance of the whole organization, but NPs need to pay attention to their individual or team performance without further generalizing.


AONE. (2015). Nurse executive competences.

AONE. (2017). Nurse leader competencies.

National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties. (2013). Population-focused nurse practitioner competencies.

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NP Schools. (n.d.). What are the NP core competencies?

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