Development of a standardized national professional competency evaluation exams for generalist registered nurses (180 ECTS)

The social and healthcare reform in Finland will change the work descriptions of nurses and requires updating the competencies of experienced nurses currently in nursing care. Development of a standardized national professional competency evaluation for generalist registered nurses (180 ECTS)project (2018-2020) results will help to ensure the competences required in nursing care are sufficient for the future needs. The project was nationwide and regionally comprehensive; including all (20) Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) with nursing programs. Therefore, the results of the project are anticipated to strengthen the quality and consistency of Finnish nursing education and improve the safety of patient care.

The project produced the competence requirements for nurse education and two exam systems: 1) Exam for clinical core competence for ensuring nursing students´ clinical competence, and 2) the national exam for the nurse’s core competences (180 ECTS). They will verify the competence level required, thus promote the students’ flexible transitioning to working life. Purpose of the competence requirements defined in the project was to ensure that all professionals registered as nurses in Finland have the qualifications of general nurse required by the EU Directive (2013/55/EU). The methods of supervision and evaluation of nursing students’ clinical competence are used throughout the educational programs to guide the development of the students’ clinical competence. The methods enable the acceleration of nursing studies according to individual progress and for example, the recognition of clinical competence acquired through previous education and work experience.

The evaluation methods support nursing students’ flexible and goal-oriented learning through motivating them to engage in the studies and to practice the essential competencies related to the nursing profession. From the very beginning of education, nursing clinical competence supervision and evaluation methods are used to guide students’ competence development and to assure the students have achieved the required theoretical and practical core competencies. The supervision and evaluation methods developed in the project will help ensure that the required professional competency levels for nurses responsible for general nursing will be met nationwide by all students who will be registered as nurses in Finland, including midwifes, public health nurses, paramedics and deaconess with nursing education. They will also help ensure that a consistent level of professional nursing qualifications are offered by all nursing programs.

The evaluation methods also enhance the efficiency of nurse educators’ work by for example, assisting with the utilization of various collegial networks and learning environments. In addition, interdepartmental collaboration and openness of organizational cultures will be promoted through laying the groundwork for using best teaching and supervision practices.

The project focused on elucidating the competence requirements that need to be achieved during nursing education and providing tools for the educators to assure that the requirements are met nation widely. There is a need for research how these competence requirements fulfil in nursing education and how they are implemented in curricula in the UASs.

Authors:
Marja Silén-Lipponen, principal lecturer, PhD, Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Leena Salminen, professor, PhD, University of Turku, Department of Nursing Science

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