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J Adv Nurs. 2004 Jul;47(2):124-33.

Nurse competence scale: development and psychometric testing.

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Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku and Corporate Headquarters, Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Helsinki, Finland.



Self-assessment assists nurses to maintain and improve their practice by identifying their strengths and areas that may need to be further developed. Professional competence profiles encourage them to take an active part in the learning process of continuing education. Although competence recognition offers a way to motivate practising nurses to produce quality care, few measuring tools are available for this purpose.


This paper describes the development and testing of the Nurse Competence Scale, an instrument with which the level of nurse competence can be assessed in different hospital work environments.


The categories of the Nurse Competence Scale were derived from Benner's From Novice to Expert competency framework. A seven-step approach, including literature review and six expert groups, was used to identify and validate the indicators of nurse competence. After a pilot test, psychometric testing of the Nurse Competence Scale (content, construct and concurrent validity, and internal consistency) was undertaken with 498 nurses. The 73-item scale consists of seven categories, with responses on a visual analogy scale format. The frequency of using competencies was additionally tested with a four-point scale.


Self-assessed overall scores indicated a high level of competence across categories. The Nurse Competence Scale data were normally distributed. The higher the frequency of using competencies, the higher was the self-assessed level of competence. Age and length of work experience had a positive but not very strong correlation with level of competence. According to the item analysis, the categories of the Nurse Competence Scale showed good internal consistency.


The results provide strong evidence of the reliability and validity of the Nurse Competence Scale.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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