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Nursing and competencies — a natural fit: the politics of skillĀ /competency formation in nursing

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Abstract:

WINDSOR C, DOUGLAS C and HARVEY T. Nursing Inquiry 2012; 19: 213–222 Nursing and competencies — a natural fit: the politics of skill/competency formation in nursing

The last two decades have seen a significant restructuring of work across Australia and other industrialised economies, a critical part of which has been the appearance of competency based education and assessment. The competency movement is about creating a more flexible and mobile labour force to increase productivity and it does so by redefining work as a set of transferable or ‘soft’ generic skills that is transportable and is the possession of the individual. This article sought to develop an analysis of competency based clinical assessment of nursing students across a bachelor of nursing degree course. This involved an examination of a total of 406 clinical assessment tools that covered the years 1992–2009 and the three years of a bachelor degree. Data analysis generated three analytical findings: the existence of a hierarchy of competencies that prioritises soft skills over intellectual and technical skills; the appearance of skills as personal qualities or individual attributes; and the absence of context in assessment. The article argues that the convergence in nursing of soft skills and the professionalisation project reform has seen the former give legitimacy to the enduring invisibility and devaluation of nursing work.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1800.2011.00549.x

Affiliations: Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld, Australia

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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