Competence and competency-based nursing education: finding our way through the issues

Nurse Educ Today. 2014 May;34(5):676-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Sep 14.


The language of competence is widely utilized in both the regulation of nursing practice and curricular design in nursing education. The notion of competence defines what it means to be a professional, although it is not the only way of describing nursing practice. Unfortunately, there is much confusion about the concepts of competence, competency, and competency-based education. As well, the notion of competence, despite its global popularity, has flaws. In this paper we will disentangle these terms and critique the use of competence frameworks in nursing education.

Keywords: Competence; Competency-based education; Nursing; Students; Undergraduate nursing education.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Nursing*
  • Students, Nursing