Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Capability, not just competence

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Ever since I encountered the 'capability envelope' of Stephenson and Yorke (1998) I have been an advocate. The theory of capability is that it enables people who are competent to move from their 'comfort zone' of competence into capability where they can apply themselves to new and unexpected problems. My fear about the competence agenda in nursing is that it keeps nurses in their 'comfort zones' and that the link between competence and capability is higher education.

A recent paper by O’Connell et al. (2014) titled: ‘Beyond competencies: using a capability framework indeveloping practice standards for advanced practice nursing’ and published in JAN discusses 'the application of a capability framework for advanced practice nursing standards/competencies'. In the words of the authors: 'Capability has been described as the combination of skills, knowledge, values and self-esteem which enables individuals to manage change, be flexible and move beyond competency'.


O’Connell J, Gardner G, Coyer F (2014) Beyond competencies: using a capability framework in developing practice standards for advanced practice nursing Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12475

Stephenson J, Yorke M (1998) Capability and Quality in Higher Education. Routlegde, Abingdon

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