A Competency-Based Approach to Public Health Nursing Performance Appraisal


Kate Bracy Kalb, 999 Third Ave., Ste. 900, Seattle, WA 98104-4039. E-mail: Kathleen.Kalb@METROKC.GOV


ABSTRACT Objectives: To integrate public health nursing (PHN) competencies into a comprehensive performance review instrument for nurses at multiple practice levels in an urban public health department.

Design: Based on thorough review of PHN competency literature, the tool evaluates performance for 5 nursing practice classifications (Staff RN, Public Health Nurse, Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nursing Supervisor) in eight PHN domains (assessment, policy development/program planning, evaluation, communication, cultural competency, partnership/collaboration, disease prevention/health promotion, leadership/systems thinking).

Sample: Tool was piloted with over 50 nurses from PHN workforce (n>400) of Public Health-Seattle & King County (Washington).

Method: Pilot testing includes all components of the performance appraisal system: Public Health Competency Grid, statement of general workplace expectations, Nursing Performance Appraisal Tool, and supporting documents defining performance elements by job classification.

Results: Supervisors find the tool easy to use and report that it provides opportunity for real communication between employee and supervisor. Nurses at all practice levels report that it effectively describes/evaluates their practice.

Conclusions: This tool is an efficient performance appraisal instrument providing meaningful feedback to nursing employees within a framework of PHN competencies. Adopting such tools in PHN practice can help nurses to better understand their role in population-based public health efforts.