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Nursing Leadership Competencies


Once nurses have graduated from school, they are expected to be well versed in several competencies that come with nursing. There are several requirements expected from nurses, and one of these requirements has been defined and agreed upon by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). These competencies apply to all nurses regardless of their specifications or patient population. Since experts in their respective fields created these competencies, they delve into specific objectives that nurse practitioners must demonstrate before graduating from NP school. As such, the curriculum of NP school is designed around these competencies to give nurse practitioners the knowledge and skills required for them to become licensed independent practitioners. In some cases, it is asserted that the competencies are considered important compared to the total time performed by students.

Scientific Foundation Competencies

Nurses must graduate from NP school with scientific knowledge. Besides the scientific backbone of nursing education, nurses have to become competent in medical sciences. In this competency, nurses must take a course in pathophysiology and pharmacology. They are also free to take additional courses that suit their needs and requirements. Depending on the nurse’s area of specialization, there are fields of science that they have to study to become skillful and fully knowledgeable. Besides the specific scientific fields that nurses have to study, they also have to understand clinical practice, evidence-based practice, and other scientific practices in medicine. Through this competency, nurses will critically analyze data and evidence in their nursing practice. Nurses will be able to integrate knowledge from other disciplines within the context of their specific nursing practices. Nurses will develop new practices and approaches based on research, theory, and knowledge (DeCapua, 2022).

Leadership Competencies

Leadership is important because it reinforces professional accountability, scholarship, and advocacy. Through this competency, nurses will understand the standards they are required to operate. Every nurse has to demonstrate and encompass some leadership skills and abilities to be successful in their practices. Through their knowledge in leadership, nurses will be able to advocate for improved access and cost-effective health care. Leadership provides the nurses with how they can ask for changes and influence policy, and it also provides them with an avenue for communication. Communication is essential to nursing, both orally and in writing. Leadership competencies require effective and clear communication between faculties. Nurses must participate in professional organizations and activities related to their specific nursing fields. These organizations can help nurses embrace leadership opportunities that may present themselves in their careers. Nurses can assume complex and advanced leadership roles, and through this, they can initiate meaningful changes in their careers (Nghe et al., 2020).

Quality Competencies

Each patient expects to get the best care when visiting a healthcare facility. It is nurses’ job to ensure that the care that is given to patients reflects the highest standards of their nursing practices. The health outcomes have to reflect the professional standards of nursing and have to be of a higher degree. Nurses provide quality care to patients using the best available evidence for a given case. The relationship between access to healthcare, the cost of healthcare, and the safety of healthcare are evaluated and used to influence the healthcare outcomes of patients. Another way that nurses can provide quality care to their patients is by applying skills in peer review. The act of peer review helps in cementing a culture of excellence among nurses. Nurses have to be able to anticipate variations in practice. The anticipation of variations makes it easy for the nurses to implement interventions to ensure patients get quality care (Barbosa et al., 2019).

Practice Inquiry Competencies

Besides doing research, nurses have to learn how to incorporate their research into their practices. Applying research into practices to improve patients’ health outcomes is fundamental to this competency. This competency provides nurses with the knowledge they require to translate scientific knowledge and evidence into clinical practices. Besides translating knowledge into clinical practice, nurses can also generate knowledge from these clinical practices and use it to improve practice and the healthcare outcomes of patients. When nurses apply individual applications of clinical guidelines, they can think critically about their practices and all the possible outcomes. Through critical thinking, nurses can transmit knowledge from the inquiry. They can also use the clinical experiences from their practices to improve the health care outcomes of their patients. Nurses have to understand the scientific knowledge used in their practice and inquire about practices and knowledge that may be different or information that does not match the established guidelines and practices. While the application of knowledge learned is important, nurses have to be able to think critically and independently to identify cases that require a different perspective (DeCapua, 2022).

Technology and Information Literacy Competency

Technological inventions and innovations continue to change the field of information and healthcare technologies. Access to information is a fundamental part of a nurse’s career. This competency teaches nurses the importance of understanding and using technologies in healthcare. In addition, the competency teaches nurses how to use available technologies in their practices. These technologies increase the chances of patient recovery and increase the quality of care given to patients. Nurses can easily translate technical and scientific health information for their specific use cases. Demonstrating literary skills in complex decision-making by nurses is important to many areas of a nurse’s career, such as assessing a patient’s educational needs and coaching patients for positive behavioral change. Being knowledgeable in these technologies helps nurses provide effective and personal care to patients – precisely according to their needs. Nurses can capture data on variables and use it to evaluate their nursing care (DeCapua, 2022).

Policy Competencies

Policies are crucial in healthcare as they constitute a large part of the operations in healthcare facilities. Policy ranges from the decisions made at the managerial level to the individual practices carried out by nurses. Healthcare policies play an important role in the quality, cost, and effectiveness of care given to patients. In this competency, the policy covers a wide range of specific areas. As such, nurses are required to take a specific health policy related to their specific area or patient population. Nurses will have to understand the relations between clinical practice and policy. They will also advocate for policies that they think would promote increased access to healthcare. By understanding how these policies are made and implemented, nurses will analyze the implications of these policies in their practices. They can also contribute to developing these policies by proposing them (Nghe et al., 2020).

Health Delivery System Competencies

The nursing field and nursing practices form a complex web of activities and infrastructure to be managed. The planning, development, and implementation of programs in the nursing field are covered under this competency. Through this competency, nurses will minimize the risks that patients are exposed to. Nurses will apply the knowledge of organizational practices and complex systems to increase and improve the expected outcomes of patients’ health. Nurses will be able to analyze the structure of organizations and the functions to understand the different ways that these organizations can be improved. This competency gives nurses the prerequisite to work with other nurses to improve the continuum of healthcare (Heinen et al., 2019).

Ethics Competencies

Understanding the ethical implications of healthcare practices modeled after scientific advances has to be understood to help nurses avoid violating patients’ rights. Through this competency, nurses will be able to integrate ethical principles when making decisions regarding the health outcomes of patients. Nurses will also be able to understand the ethical implications of some of their decisions. There are ethical complexities present in healthcare, especially for individuals and populations that present with special problems (Heinen et al., 2019).

Independent Practice Competencies

A nurse practitioner’s ability to perform as a registered independent practitioner is ensured by the independent practice skills. According to the NONPF, a licensed independent practitioner is a professional who has a recognized scientific knowledge base and is legally entitled to provide treatment and services without direction or supervision. These skills include assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients in the student’s demographic of interest. A psychiatric nurse practitioner, for example, would study how to diagnose and treat mental illness and addiction. Nurses can function as independent licensed practitioners. Nurses who study this competency in their professional practice demonstrate a high level of accountability. Nurses will be able to prescribe medication within the scope of their practice. By recognizing cultural diversity, nurses will provide patient-centered care and establish mutual relations with their patients (Barbosa et al., 2019).


Graduates of the Nurse Practitioner program have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for independent clinical practice. The NP Core Competencies are learned through mentored patient care experiences that emphasize independent and interprofessional practice, analytic skills for evaluating and providing evidence-based, patient-centered care in various settings, and advanced knowledge of the healthcare delivery system. NPs with a doctorate in nursing practice use their scientific underpinning knowledge to provide high-quality care. In addition, they can use technology and information literacy abilities to enhance health outcomes, policy, and healthcare delivery and engage in practice inquiry. Advanced communication skills, cooperation, complicated decision-making, leadership, and health care business are all areas where knowledge, skills, and expertise are needed.


Barbosa, A. C. S., Luiz, F. S., Friedrich, D. B. D. C., Püschel, V. A. D. A., Farah, B. F., & Carbogim, F. D. C. (2019). Profile of nursing graduates: competencies and professional insertion. Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem27.

DeCapua, M. (2022, January 20). What are the Nurse Practitioner Core Competencies? NurseJournal.

Heinen, M., Oostveen, C., Peters, J., Vermeulen, H., & Huis, A. (2019). An integrative review of leadership competencies and attributes in advanced nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing75(11), 2378–2392.

Nghe, M., Hart, J., Ferry, S., Hutchins, L., & Lebet, R. (2020). Developing Leadership Competencies in Midlevel Nurse Leaders. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration50(9), 481–488.


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