Competency Exams and Skills Checklists for PRN Nurses & CNAs

competency exams and skills
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN

What Are Competency Exams and Skills Checklists?

Some facilities may require "competency exams" to have further confidence in your capabilities. These tests are done online through the healthcare portal, Prophecy. If an exam is required of you, you can expect the details for how to login to be sent to your email.

If taking tests makes you somewhat anxious, take a breath. You can prepare for the Prophecy tests. Most of their tests have a content outline available, and they offer some practice tests as well for you to get a feel for the format. They are a multiple-choice question and answer format, some are timed while others are not.

Once you've finished the exam, your results will be automatically submitted to Nursa and the facility that requested them.

Helpful tip: If you don't pass the competency exam, it can be taken again. Click on "show details" to review what you answered incorrectly and prepare yourself to take it again.

Competency exams available through Prophecy are over 200 in number and cover many nursing specialties, however, they all fall into one of three categories:

  1. Clinical - The clinical assessments will focus on your knowledge, medication administration, and critical thinking skills including problem-solving.
  2. Situational - The situational assessments cover areas of communication and rapport with both coworkers, supervisors, and patients, and conflict resolution.
  3. Behavioral - The behavioral assessments will look more closely at your personality, adaptability to change, accountability, and teamwork skills. 

Similarly, some facilities require completed "skills checklists". These checklists serve the same intended purpose as the competency exams: to determine your capability to do the job well. A skills checklist is most likely to include the following ten points:

  1. Decision Making - Take into account the information you've gathered from your coworkers, your observations, and your knowledge in order to be decisive under pressure.
  2. Mathematics - Accuracy, and speed for conversions, fractions, ratios, calculations of patient data including medication doses, IV drips, bodily outputs are vital.
  3. Physical Endurance - Eight to twelve-hour shifts will allow for very little time off your feet. The physical demands of your position may vary but will include fine motor skills, lifting, bending, pushing, and other physical demands.
  4. Observation - Awareness of your environment, changes in patient condition, and problem identification are aspects of observation that can inform your decisions.
  5. Patience - This ability will be tested routinely at work. Patience in this aspect will look to your ability to remain calm in the face of scared, pained, and/or disoriented patients.
  6. Compassion - This emotional skill means being sensitive to the feelings of your patients and can be put into action by making eye contact with your patients, treating your patients with respect, and listening to their concerns.
  7. Non-Judgmental - Non-judgmental nurses and clinicians will be more aware of vulnerabilities both physical and emotional in their patients. Moreover, they will be motivated to prioritize the preservation of the dignity and independence of their patients.
  8. Team-Oriented - This looks for conflict resolution, support of others, awareness of how change affects others, and goal identification.
  9. Communication - This skill looks for your ability to communicate with your patients in a way that empowers them to actively participate in their healing journey. Good communication allows you, the clinician, to establish boundaries yet build rapport and trust with coworkers, patients, and supervisors. It furthermore allows information to be exchanged that results in smooth team functioning.
  10.  Dedication - This skill looks at your commitment to the profession, your patients, and your job.

For more information about other requisite nursing compliance documents, visit our Nursing Compliance Resources page.

Miranda Kay, RN
Blog published on:

Miranda is a Registered Nurse, Medical Fact Checker, and Publishing Editor at Nursa. Her work has been featured in publications including the American Nurses Association (ANA), Healthcare IT Outcomes, International Living, and more.

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