Core Competencies of Nurse Practitioners

Humanity’s quest for knowledge has led to the emergence of a plethora of disciplines. In turn, the extant individual differences and preferences have facilitated the distribution of professionals across all these disciplines. It is critical that wherever an individual works, utmost professionalism should prevail. This high level of professionalism is only achievable if adequate emphasis is placed on the necessary competencies. Different disciplines and sub-disciplines have differing competency requirements. For instance, nursing is subdivided into nursing practice, nursing education, and nursing leadership. Each of the subsections has well defined core competencies that nurses should meet. This brief discourse compares and contrasts the core competencies that are requisite for nurse practitioners and nurse educators, and analyses the salient similarities and differences in the implementation of these core competencies.

Similarities and Differences of the Core Competencies of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Educators

In advanced societies, the differences between these two nursing roles are conspicuous. Nonetheless, some similarities exist between them as outlined below. Firstly, the need for quality is inherent in both cases (NLN, 2005; NONPF, 2012). Both nurse practitioners and educators are expected to demonstrate high quality standards in the discharge of their duties. Specifically, both nursing roles emphasize the importance of continuously improving the quality of service. Secondly, although leadership skills ought to be the preserve of nurse administrators, they are also essential for both the nurse practitioners and educators. Professionals in both roles are expected to provoke and be part of the change that makes their practice and practice environment better (NLN, 2005; NONPF, 2012). Thirdly, both nurse practitioners and educators are required to contribute to the development of the policy framework that guides their practice. Nurse practitioners should participate actively in the formulation and development of the policies that guide nursing practice (NONPF, 2012). Similarly, nurse educators should play an active role in the development of the nursing education curriculum and the policies that guide its use (NLN, 2005).

Despite sharing the outlined similarities, these two nursing roles have some core competencies that set them apart. For example, nurse practitioners are supposed to place emphasis on ethics since they deal with matters of life and death (NONPF, 2012). In contrast, a nurse educator requires some level of ethical consideration, but ethics do not feature as a core competency. Another area of difference between the two nursing roles is that a nurse practitioner is expected to demonstrate a strong ability to practice independently (NONPF, 2012). A nurse practitioner bears the responsibility of her decisions and actions as an individual. For nurse educators, emphasis is placed on collaboration and cooperation because they can only produce competent nurses via teamwork (NLN, 2005). Further, nurse educators are supposed to engage in scholarship in addition to their role as facilitators of learning (NLN, 2005). In contrast, nurse practitioners do not necessarily need to show any scholarship abilities after successfully completing their nursing education.

Several other similarities and differences exist in the core competencies for these two nursing roles. However, for this discourse, the similarities and differences outlined above will suffice.

Analysis of the Similarities and Differences in the Implementation of Core Competencies in Nursing

As evidenced by the discussion above, nurse practitioners and educators need to exhibit the core competencies that are of relevance to their roles. Some similarities and differences exist in these core competencies. Similarly, the process of implementing these competencies also shows some similarities and differences.

Both nurse practitioners and educators operate under an umbrella body that defines the competencies for each role. The two nursing roles fall under the National League for Nursing (NLN) as the overall umbrella body that guides the formulation and implementation of their requisite competencies. Further, each of the roles has its own umbrella body that oversees the activities of its professionals. Certification by a relevant body is also necessary in each case, but the necessary credentials can only be given to an individual who meets the established criteria. Further, for both roles, the core competencies serve as important entry requirements that one must meet before commencing practice (NP Competencies, n.d.). Making them requirements that must be met prior to practice ensures that only competent professionals are allowed to practice.

Areas of difference also exist in the implementation of the core competencies for nurse practitioners and nurse educators. A key difference between the two is that the nurse practitioner education has been redesigned to synchronize with the requisite core competencies. In other words, a nurse practitioner cannot graduate without meeting the core competency criteria. The case is different with nurse educators. Requirements such as participating in curriculum design cannot be measured prior to practice. Most of the nurse educator competencies are implementable only as follow up activities. In addition, nurse practitioners are licensed to operate as independently while educators are not. A nurse educator has to function within the setting of a training institution. The outcomes of a nurse practitioner’s decisions and actions can be directly blamed on the individual nurse. This retribution is not possible with nurse educators because the outcome of their activities is not directly measurable.


Evidently, the nurse practitioner and nurse educator roles are as much similar as they are different. They have areas of explicit difference as well as areas of close similarity. Nonetheless, the core competencies for both roles are of importance to the nursing discipline. As such, they should continue to be developed and refined to meet the fast changing needs of the healthcare system.


NLN. (2005). Core competencies of nurse educators with task statements. Web.

NONPF. (2012). Nurse practitioner core competencies April 2011- Amended 2012. Web.

NP Competencies – National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). (n.d.). Web.

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