Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Competency Assessment Tools for Nurses

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

As with many professions, measuring competency has become a critical part of the nursing profession. Understanding the different types and their uses will help ensure you get the most from these valuable tools. Whichever assessment is chosen should be based on a careful examination of what the expected benefits or outcomes should be. This initial needs analysis will help clarify and define the appropriate assessment for you and your team.


Whether you're asked to participate from a floor manager or you simply want to better gauge your current skills as a nurse, self-assessments can be a great tool. These assessments will not only help you define your existing strengths, reinforcing what you know about them, but they can be great opportunities to find areas for potential improvement. One of the most valuable aspects of assessments is to point out gaps or areas on which you can concentrate additional practice and study. The result will be to broaden your knowledge base, providing better career opportunities and a higher level of patient care.

Hiring Assessments

More and more nurses are being hired contingent upon successfully completing an assessment in either a paper, online or face-to-face format. These tools help ensure a nurse new to a hospital or clinic brings with her the requisite skills and temperament needed for success. Ultimately, using assessments to hire only well-qualified, skilled nurses helps limit the possibility of improper or less-than-adequate patient care. Either one may be a precursor to the hospital or clinic being held liable for a nurse's shortcomings.

Niche Skills Assessments

For nurses that are either currently working in a specialized field, or for those that wish to, there are assessments available that measure very specific skill sets. There are no shortages of specialized areas that use assessments. These can include surgical nursing, mental health, occupational therapies and emergency nursing skills. Others are for the general nursing population, but are specific to core competencies. Sanitation, changing patient dressings and application of restraints are some examples.

Peer Reviews and Management Assessments

While many think of either online or paper-based assessments, peers and direct supervisors are in a position to provide extremely valuable feedback via assessments. Those that work with you day in and day out can speak to your level of knowledge, but also to how you interact with patients and other employees on the floor. Measuring your impact on the workplace environment can be difficult using online or paper assessment tools, but your peers are in an ideal position to do so.