In 2010, The National Certification Corporation transitioned its long-standing maintenance program to incorporate a continuing competency model for health care providers. A 125 item assessment was designed for each core certification aligned with the knowledge competencies of the specific certification examination. Continuing education needs are based on the results of the assessment with strengths identified in areas in which the standards are met. Gaps in knowledge are reflected in areas in which the standards are not met and this provides the CE requirements for maintenance in the form of an educational plan.
As of 2015, close to 100,000 NCC certified nurses have completed an assessment. Over 43,873 individuals completed phase 1 of implementation allowing them an opportunity to experience the assessment process real time. Beginning with the 2014 maintenance cycle deadlines, everyone was required to complete an assessment before earning CE (Stage 2) and at this time 50,000 certified nurses have taken an initial stage 2 assessment. Continuing competency assessment continues and 7,100 individuals have already completed a third assessment.
In the beginning of the process approximately 63% of nurses required the full 45 hours of CE; however, by the end of five years only about 50% are requiring the full 45 hours of CE. This represents a 20% change in CE needs since the continuing competency initiative started and demonstrates improving knowledge competency in core areas over time. Of those not requiring 45 CE hours there has also been a drop with individuals moving from the need for 40 hours of CE to a 35 hour CE requirement. Focused education may demonstrate an improvement in knowledge competency overtime as indicated by a decrease in knowledge gaps related to core competencies. On-going research may demonstrate the value of a continued competency assessment and focused CE to maintain core competencies for health care providers.
Continuing competency assessment is expected at the beginning of each new maintenance cycle. It provides the educational plan for CE that must be earned during that cycle. It is essential to take the assessment as early as possible after maintenance so that it is completed before earning CE. Only CE earned after the assessment can be used to maintain.