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What is a Self-assessment?

How do I know if I am competent? What does the term 'competent' mean? What exactly should I be competent at?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions? They're difficult to answer and evoke vague or subjective responses (your own opinion on how competent you are in a particular area is easily affected by personal bias). The self assessment process is designed to provide you with a frame of reference so that you can answer these questions objectively.



What Should Be Included in a Self-assessment?

A self assessment involves the systematic process of collecting data and analysing it to aid you in identifying the personal gaps in your knowledge base or your competency level1. Several different methods are available to assist you with your self-assessment.

  • Reflection on your practice, abilities, events or incidents
  • Benchmark check against your relevant competency standards
  • Performance appraisal outcomes or goals
  • Feedback from colleagues
  • A SWOT analysis of your practice.

The CPD Registration Standard requires you to identify and prioritise your learning needs based on an assessment of your practice against relevant competency or professional practice standards. A self-assessment is the process by which you do this.



How to Conduct a Self-assessment

Reflect On Your Practice

It's most likely that you will have reflected on your practice either formally or informally at some stage in the past. For example, informally, you may review or analyse a specific practice event and the actions you took before coming to a conclusion about your competence in that situation. This may also include debriefing with colleagues. Formally, you may already be keeping a journal. Read the CPD getting started guide: reflecting on your practice for more information.

Documenting your analysis is important in helping to identify both strengths and weaknesses in your practice, or competence. A format for the analysis is helpful and could include:

  • A brief description of the situation e.g when, where, what?
  • Your summary analysis of the situation e.g. positives, negatives, what would you do differently, what made it a negative or positive outcome?
  • Competencies that specifically relate to the situation e.g. RN 7.2
    Provides nursing care according to the documented care or treatment plan.
    Acts consistently with the predetermined plan of care.
    Uses a range of appropriate strategies to facilitate the individual/groups’ achievement of short or long term goals.
  • Strengths and/or weaknesses e.g. is there a gap in your knowledge or competence?

Conduct a Check Against the Competency Standards

The national competency standards for nurses and midwives are the core competency standards by which your performance is assessed to obtain and retain your nursing or midwifery registration in Australia. Within the CPD context, these core competency standards provide you with the framework for assessing your competence, and are used by the NMBA to assess competence as part of the annual renewal of your registration.

Review Your Performance Appraisal and Collect Feedback From Colleagues

Performance appraisals are great for providing you with clear learning objectives. Usually these objectives will have been identified by both you and your manager as areas that you need to improve upon. However, most performance appraisals also identify areas of your practice in which you are already considered competent. This information will help you avoid allocating valuable CPD hours to re-learning things you already know.

How to Conduct a SWOT analysis

The SWOT analysis [Strengths (positives), Weaknesses (negatives), Opportunities, and Threats] is extremely helpful when trying to understand and assess your knowledge and/or nursing skills.

Start by drawing a quadrant (a two column by two row table), and place one of the four headers in each area of the table. Next, you'll need to enter your nursing roles one-by-one (refer to your job description for a list of your roles and responsibilities) assigning each one to one of the four cells (depending on how you grade that role). At the end of this process you will have a clear, visual outline of your professional requirements and where you should focus your learning first. Consider using different colour pens for each section for better clarity!

1. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Guidelines for Continued Professional Development, accessed August 6, 2013.


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