The COVID-19 crisis has sent the world into an upheaval. While the virus has continued to sicken people unimpeded by a vaccine or preventive medication, the healthcare industry grapples with an overwhelming  amount of patients even as many healthcare workers become ill themselves.

The intersection of caring for so many while losing workers to quarantine or illness is also creating an urgent need for more nurses. To help facilitate an efficient and accurate hiring process for healthcare organizations, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) recently released a free online tool to help match nurses with the specific competencies that are most needed in hospitals and organizations.

The self-assessment tool helps employers save time and effort when both are in short supply while providing a more direct process for identifying and placing nurses with the best skills match into relevant and appropriate roles. The self-assessment helps nurses assess where their strengths are—a long-term career advantage for them and a long-term advantage to the hiring employer.

“AMSN believes that competencies are the best way to assess performance and identify needed professional development opportunities for medical-surgical nurses,” says Terri Hinkley, EdD, MBA, BScN, RN, CAE, and AMSN CEO. “Nurses are stepping up and entering the workforce to assist during this crisis. We want to provide them with a tool that will help them critically evaluate their competence so they are able to contribute to the best of their professional ability.”

Hinkley says the self-assessment tool, which will be followed by a full competency model in the fall, helps employers in a couple of ways.  “It provides an out-of-the-box tool for employers to be able to best place new employees and contingent workers at a time where things are very disrupted and they may find themselves in urgent need for staff,” she says.

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The available tool helps nurses perform a self assessment on domains of practice including patient and practice management and professional concepts, with sub-domains including the nursing process, patient safety, infection prevention, medication management, education of patients and families, leadership, and critical thinking. “It allows nurses to reflect on their individual skills specifically related to their practice setting, which means it’s tailored to the work they will be doing and is not a general competency evaluation,” says Hinkley.

And when the full competency model launches, it will it evaluate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individual nurses, and it will include a soft-skill assessment and will be measurable to organizational outcomes, she says.

As employers use the self-assessment tool results, which focus on knowledge, skills, and abilities, they will be able to analyze specifics for each nurse and match those with the hiring needs in their organization. With such specific details, employers will also be able to consider the long-range fit of hiring a nurse as a potential-long-term employee. If the skills, abilities, and competencies in particular practice settings are a good match, the nurse’s career path and the healthcare organization’s nursing needs might provide opportunities for both.

As many nursing students are being called to help patients now, Hinkley says this kind of assessment is especially valuable. “AMSN also believes the self-assessment has great utility for nursing students who now find themselves displaced from their final semester of school and looking for employment,” she says. “It allows these individuals to assess their abilities to enter into nursing practice as graduate nurses, pending licensure, with a solid understanding of their level of competence in medical-surgical care settings.”

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According to AMSN, healthcare employers who want to try this tool to help them navigate this urgent hiring need while making the best placements and assignments in a short time frame, should start by looking at, where they can follow additional instructions. Nurses who are asked to complete the 20-minute online self-assessment survey, can then print or email and submit to the appropriate manager.




Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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