The Advanced Nursing Practice: Core Competencies


In the contemporary world, the development of the nursing profession has reached a stage characterized by extraordinary challenges and opportunities. Major socioeconomic factors, coupled with significant evolutions in the delivery of healthcare services, necessitate the acquisition of various core competencies among nursing practitioners. The reason is that some of these developments are unique to the profession.

Heller, Oros, and Durney-Crowley (2000) identify ten development trends that require the attention of nursing educators. The patterns have significant impacts on the profession. They include changing demographics and increasing diversity, which characterize the modern world. Others are technological explosion, globalization of the economy and the society, as well as the increased knowledge among patients in relation to healthcare (Heller et al., 2000).

Additional trends identified by Heller et al. (2000) include the complex nature of patient care and the cost of managing the process. The authors also highlighted the impacts of healthcare policies and regulations, advances in nursing practice, and research in this field (Heller et al., 2000). The growing need for education in nursing interdisciplinary interactions, together with the current shortage in the number of professionals, are other sources of concern in advanced nursing practice.

Consequently, the need for the development of core competencies among practitioners has increased. Addressing the emerging issues in the healthcare sector requires the acquisition of specialized skills. The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties [NONPF] (Nurse practitioner core competencies 2011) acknowledges the importance of the nine basic set of skills associated with Nurse Practitioners (NP). The abilities are a requirement for graduates undergoing their nurse practitioner program.

The interview with the APN leader revealed the said competencies related to the profession and their role in the practice. The author of this paper examines these capabilities in detail. The analysis focuses on their application in the field as determined from the interview.

Nurse Practitioners’ Core Competencies


According to NONPF (Nurse practitioner core competencies 2011), the various capabilities are critical to the success of the nursing practitioner operating in the modern world. They are categorized into several major groups. The groups include scientific foundation, leadership, and quality competencies (Nurse practitioner core competencies, 2011). The others are practice inquiry and technology and information literacy capabilities.

Skills in nursing policy, health delivery systems, as well as ethical operations are also needed to succeed in the nursing profession. In addition, a nursing practitioner should be capable of operating independently to develop in this field (Nurse practitioner core competencies, 2011). The nine nursing core competencies are vital in addressing emerging issues in today’s nursing practice.

Scientific Foundation Competencies

According to NONPF (Nurse practitioner core competencies 2011), this set of skills involves ability to critically analyze data and evidence related to the profession. It also includes the capability to make use of research and theory in the field, as well as apply the knowledge generated from such endeavors in the provision of healthcare services. The competencies are vital since nursing practitioners continuously interact with science in their daily activities.

According to Heller et al. (2000), nursing research is growing at a very high rate. The growth makes it necessary to conduct studies in efforts to improve healthcare. Majority of research undertakings conducted in this field have a limited scope. They focus on symptom management and such other issues. As such, these competencies remain critical in APN.

Leadership Competencies

According to NONPF (Nurse practitioner core competencies 2011), these abilities involve personal qualities essential in fostering collaboration between stakeholders. Advanced nursing practitioners interact with numerous stakeholders in their routine roles. Competent leaders demonstrate their capacities by advocating for improved healthcare. They improve their practice by implementing innovations in the sector. Leadership skills are critical in the advancement of the entire nursing practice. The capabilities are especially important in this era of rapid socioeconomic and technological developments.

Quality Competencies

Advanced nursing practitioners are concerned with more than just the provision of healthcare services (Hallas, Biesecker, Brennan, Newland & Haber, 2012). Quality capabilities improve understanding of organizational structures. Professionals with these skills are also concerned with the impacts of their policy decisions on healthcare. They focus on the quality aspects of their practice.

Quality competencies determine the nature of services delivered to patients. The core ability is required in the provision of high quality healthcare services. Professionals with this set of skills link the gap between nursing management and leadership. They effectively respond to the various challenges affecting service delivery in the healthcare system. Their experiences in clinical management, financial administration, and personnel organization are indispensable. The capabilities are supported by their highly developed communication skills. Their contributions go beyond the provision of care to patients. They extend to the organizational structure in their places of work.

Practice Inquiry Competencies

Advanced nursing practice is largely driven by inquiries, especially with regards to evolving healthcare needs. Such issues as the high cost of healthcare services make it important for professionals to gain skills in techniques that respond to the complex nature of clinical management. In addition, there is need to develop new methodologies to improve the quality of services and reduce the associated costs (Hallas et al., 2012).

Nursing practitioners with practice inquiry competencies are able to formulate the desired professional techniques. They achieve this by making inquiries in the field (Hallas et al., 2012). The skills significantly influence the whole practice.

Technology and Information Literacy Competencies

According to Hallas et al. (2012), the skills are important in the provision of quality services. The current technological explosion has radically changed nursing practice. For instance, the adoption of telemedicine and telehealth services has bridged the gap between patients and healthcare providers. In addition, digital technologies have improved the management of clinical data across the board, enhancing the provision of healthcare services in general.

According to Heller et al. (2000), the acquisition of computer skills is a major requirement for the 21st century nursing practitioner. Professionals who lack these skills impede the delivery of services in the field.

Policy and Regulations Competencies

Practitioners are governed by numerous policies and regulations in their profession. As a result, complex issues revolving around the healthcare industry require individuals to be competent in the formulation and implementation of policies and regulations. The issues surrounding the delivery of healthcare include striking a balance between medical and economic concerns. Such concerns affect the rights of patients and their access to services (Heller et al., 2000).

Advanced practitioners in this field need to demonstrate their understanding of the policies guiding their practice (Nurse practitioner core competencies, 2011). As such, these competencies enhance policy development.

Health Delivery System Competencies

The health delivery system is a complex, multifaceted, and sensitive phenomenon. Competencies in this sector require the application of broad-based set of skills. It calls for collaborations between the various stakeholders involved in the provision of health services (Hallas et al., 2012).

Nursing professionals need skills to operate in the complex healthcare delivery framework. Individuals with capabilities in healthcare delivery systems help to improve the existing policies. They are also instrumental in the development of better healthcare delivery frameworks.

Ethics Competencies

Nursing professionals are guided by moral values and ethical codes of conduct. American Association of Colleges of Nursing (The essentials of doctoral education for advanced nursing practice 2006) acknowledges that these practitioners should uphold ethical principles in their practice. They need skills in nursing ethics given the far reaching consequences of the decisions made. In some cases, nurses are faced with complex issues and dilemmas, which demand the application of ethics. In the event that they lack skills in ethical practice, their actions may have disastrous effects on the nursing field and on their patients.

Independent Practice Competencies

Nursing students are not restricted to practice under the tutelage of the government or other large scale healthcare organizations. In some instances, these students become independent practitioners. They establish their private healthcare centers to provide services to members of the community.

Skills to operate an independent practice ensure that the nursing practitioners adhere to the laid down codes of ethics. In addition, individuals who possess these capabilities demonstrate high levels of accountability in their professional capacity (Nurse practitioner core competencies, 2011).


The need for nursing core competencies has led to significant changes in the profession. Practicing nurses and educators are operating in a rapidly changing healthcare sector. Globalization of health services, technological developments, and the shifting healthcare landscape are some of the challenges apparent in the nursing profession. The core competencies are designed to meet the current and future obstacles in this practice. In addition, the skills facilitate the delivery of high quality services to the patients and other stakeholders.


Hallas, D., Biesecker, B., Brennan, M., Newland, J., & Haber, J. (2012). Evaluation of the clinical hour requirement and attainment of core clinical competencies by nurse practitioner students. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 24(9), 544-553.

Heller, B., Oros, M., & Durney-Crowley, J. (2000). The future of nursing education: Ten trends to watch. Nursing Health Care Perspective, 21(1), 9-13.

Nurse practitioner core competencies. (2011). Web.

The essentials of doctoral education for advanced nursing practice. (2006). Web.

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