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Continuing Competence

I’m a nurse with emergency department experience. I have decided I would like to specialize in wound care. What certifications and courses does CNO require me to take? 

As self-reflective and self-regulating health professionals, nurses are accountable for determining their individual learning needs and what best helps them achieve their objectives (for example, taking refresher courses or obtaining certifications). CNO does not approve or endorse specific continuing education programs or certifications. 

Employers also may require certain qualifications or experience for nurses wishing to practice in specialized areas or use specific job titles. Nurses are responsible for understanding and meeting employer requirements. 

All nurses are professionally obliged to ensure they have the knowledge, skill and judgment to provide safe and competent care. This includes any education (for instance, certifications or courses) or experience working with specific client populations. Decisions about Procedures and Authority outlines these important considerations. 

Nurses also are accountable for maintaining and continually improving their competence. Continuing competence ensures nurses’ performance ability in a changing health care environment, and contributes to quality nursing practice and public safety. This accountability is outlined in Professional Standards, Revised 2002

Nurses engage in continuing competence by participating in CNO’s Quality Assurance (QA) Program, for which they are professionally accountable. Participating in the QA Program helps nurses engage in practice reflection, goal setting and developing Learning Plans, all of which help promote and foster lifelong learning. By participating in QA, nurses demonstrate their commitment to improve their nursing practice continually. 

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Page last reviewed June 07, 2022