Competence in Intensive and Critical Care Nursing

Journal Club Article: Ääri, R. L., Tarja, S., & Helena, L. K. (2008). Competence in intensive and critical care nursing: a literature review. Intensive and critical care nursing24(2), 78-89.[abstract]


Critical care environments are complex and challenging and with an ongoing shortage of critical care nurses, the need for graduating nurse students to have the knowledge and skills to be able to undertake the next steps of postgraduate nurse training. In the busy clinical environment, nurses require the skills and ability to practise safely and effectively post specialist training without the need for direct supervision.

What is Competence?

“the ability to perform the task with desirable outcomes under the varied circumstances of the real world”

Benner, 1982 p. 304

“the overlap of knowledge with the performance components of psychomotor skills and clinical problem solving within the realm of affective responses”

Dunn et al., 2000 p. 340

Literature Review

45 studies included in literature review.


Four main themes were identified in the concept of competence:

  1. Competence in general
  2. Professional competence
  3. Clinical competence
  4. Expertise


The concept of competence in intensive and critical care nursing is multidimensional.