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Given the array of individual differences in nursing performance, she recommends that employers and educators assess competencies before assigning nurses to practice settings or advancing them in educational programs (del Bueno, 1990).While examples of competency-based assessment are more prevalent in the nursing practice literature, limited examples can be found in the nursing education literature as well.The University of Colorado School of Nursing (CU-SON) is currently in the process of implementing a competency-based, outcomes-focused curriculum in its four nursing education programs: baccalaureate (BS), master’s (MS), nursing doctorate (ND), and doctor of philosophy (Ph D) programs.The Colorado experience described in this article serves as an exemplar for rationale, methods, and process used to develop and implement a practice-oriented model to promote competence among students and practitioners.The legal and financial implications of employee performance and safe practice in a rapidly changing practice environment make continuing professional competence a major concern for all providers and health care organizations.

Focus On Competencies in Education and Practice Multiple requirements for competent nursing practice in the health care system have been established by national associations and agencies.

Operationally defining acceptable, competent performance is one of the most challenging and essential components in this accountability paradigm. Students approach the learning institution with the assumption that they will be taught the requisite knowledge and skills to become competent nurses.

Employers of nursing graduates assume that the nursing degree and the state licensure certify competent performance.

Many definitional and methodological issues evolve from these assumptions.

The social mandate for accountability, however, does not tolerate ambiguous assumptions or debate.

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The use of criterion-based performance measures determines practice competencies in employees as well as identifies where need exists to correct skill or knowledge deficiencies (del Bueno, Weeks, & Brown-Stewart, 1987).