skills vs. proficiencies

  1. When did skills change into proficiencies??

    Is there a difference???

    Just curious.
  2. Visit passing thru profile page

    About passing thru

    Joined: Jan '03; Posts: 1,998; Likes: 6


  3. by   rn/writer
    This might be one of those sneaky little euphemisms (like right-sizing for laying off), but as one who loves words, I guess I can make a case for a difference between the two.

    As I see it, a skill is the task itself, while a proficiency describes a skill in which you have acquired a certain level of competency/comfort. I hate corporate/career-type jargon and try to see past it whenever possible, but, especially in an orientation phase (new nurse, new unit, new skill), there might be genuine merit in making a distinction between a task and the performer's ability to do it. For example, I can insert an IV but I don't do enough of them to describe myself as proficient.

    The potential problem in this area has more to do with the attitude of the institution/unit assessing proficiency. If it's done with sufficient time and grace to let staff feel motivated and safe, proficiency testing can be a boon to all involved. But, if nurses feel like they're under the gun with too little time or training to achieve real competency, then proficiency testing is just one more club to whack people with.

    Wouldn't it be interesting if JCAHO realized that patient care quality is very much affected by staff morale and started evaluating THAT!

    Miranda F.
  4. by   kitty=^..^=cat
    We use both "skills" and "competencies" at my facility. Like the previous poster indicated, "skill" denotes the task. We have an annual Skills Fair to validate competency/maintenance of competency. We also have a "skills checklist" for new hires, which is sort of a self-assessment tool that they complete to let us know what skills they have performed and what their perceived level of competence/comfort with each skill is.

    We generally try to have initial competencies established by the end of 90-day orientation with annual validation of competency. Skills stations at the annual fair are determined based on analysis of incident reports from the previous year and PI findings from the different departments.
    Last edit by kitty=^..^=cat on Jan 5, '05 : Reason: dumb grammar after a long day...
  5. by   passing thru
    Thank you both, those are great replies. Y'all are excellent communicators.
    rn writer: Your explanation is concise and thoughtful and complete.
    Everyone who reads this post will learn something.