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Defining Currency of Practice for Nurse Educators  

Willem J. Fourie, RGN, RPN, PhD, M.Cur, B.Cur, Dip.N.Ed, Deputy Head of Department and Programme Leader, Department of Nursing and Health Studies Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland  

Janet D. Olliver, RGON, MA (Applied)(Nsg), Professional Head of Nursing, UCOL, Palmerston North  

Catherine M. Andrew, RCpN, MA (Hons), Head of School, Nursing, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Christchurch

Fourie, W. J., Olliver, J. D., & Andrew, C. M. (2002). Defining currency of practice for nurse educators. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 18(3), 30-39.

Abstract  

Recent Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) guidelines for competence-based practising certificates (NCNZ, 2001) and the fact that all nurse educators must have a current practising certificate prompted the Nursing Schools within the Tertiary Accord of New Zealand (TANZ) to explore issues surrounding current competency in practice and how this can be maintained by nurse educators. This is a topical debate as discussions related to competence-based practising certificates generally refer to competence only in terms of direct patient care. This article sets out to clarify the issue with specific reference to nurse educators who, by the nature of their scope of practice, often do not carry a patient caseload. The literature relating to currency of practice is explored to provide background to current definitions and existing strategies for maintaining competence. This article draws on the findings of a survey by the TANZ Nursing Schools and provides a position on how currency of practice applies to nurses working in educational settings. In addition, strategies to maintain clinical, teaching and scholarly currency are presented along with suggestions for providing evidence that currency of practice is maintained.  

Key Words: Nursing education, competency, currency of practice, recency of practice   

Introduction  

Standard five of the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) Handbook for Tertiary Institutions offering preregistration nursing programmes requires that the curriculum is implemented by teachers who are qualified for their role and that “teachers maintain and update knowledge and skills relevant to the area in which they are teaching” (NCNZ, February, 2002, p.8). This means that all nurse educators require a current annual practising certificate. Few would argue with these requirements. However, the challenge for lecturers of nursing in the tertiary sector is to not only demonstrate such qualifications on appointment, but also to maintain and update them in relation to the area in which they are teaching. In light of this, and the recent NCNZ guidelines for competence-based practising certificates for registered nurses, the nursing schools within the Tertiary Accord of New Zealand (TANZ) decided to explore the issues surrounding competency in practice and how nurse educators can maintain this.  Continued

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