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January 10, 2022

Practice Expectation Spotlight

Practice Expectation Spotlight: The Continuing Competency Program

Happy New Year. As we move into the New Year, we often find ourselves reflecting on our past accomplishments and areas of opportunities to grow and learn. The more you self-reflect, the better you know yourself: your strengths, weaknesses, abilities and areas to be developed.

The Continuing Competency Program:

  • Encourages self-reflection
  • Enriches practice and
  • Addresses learning needs

The program also provides registered nurses with a framework to integrate self-directed learning into their practice. There are three main components to your self-development plan. The first includes a self-directed learning goal, the second includes a learning activity to help you accomplish your goal and finally an opportunity to determine that you have met your goal by reflecting on how you have introduced your new learning into practice.

One of the best ways to describe a clear self-directed learning goal is to use the SMART goal setting technique.

Creating self-improvement goals begins by assessing your strengths and weaknesses and determining your overall objectives for growth (Self-reflection). Once you understand what you want to achieve, you can then develop a concise plan for progress. Having a straightforward outline of actionable steps helps to measure your growth and allows you to make adjustments along the way. As with any goal setting, creating a concise vision sets you up for success in the remaining steps. If you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish, it’s nearly impossible to know what steps to take to get there

Creating a plan to achieve your goal allows you to make small steps towards progress without feeling overwhelmed. It also ensures that you have milestones along the way to check in and make sure you are achieving your goals.


S: Specific

Setting a specific learning goal will increase the chances of you being able to achieve your goal

Good Start: “I will improve my communication”

Much Better: “I will learn three communication techniques used to de-escalate aggressive behaviour in dementia patients

M: Measurable

How will you know when you have achieved your goal?

Measuring your success or growth is crucial to evaluating what you’re doing and whether you’re moving forward. If not, this information allows you to adjust your plan accordingly. There are several ways you can track your progress, including keeping a journal or using an app or software to measure your growth. Tracking your progress enables you to recognize patterns and best practices in your personal development path that you can repeat for faster success.

“I will complete the course and successfully complete the post-course learning quiz”

A: Attainable

Set a learning goal and learning activity that can be completed by December 1st of the current year

“I will attend “XXX Workshop provided by XXXX on October 15, 2022”

R: Relevant

Is you learning goal related to your current role and responsibilities?

“I work in a Long Term Care Facility Behavior Unit”

T: Timely

Document an expected date of completion to keep yourself on track.

I will complete this goal by October 31, 2022.

Self-Directed Learning Goal/Activity

“I will learn three communication techniques used to de-escalate aggressive behaviour in dementia patients by attending XXX workshop on October 15, 2022. This will help me provide enhanced care to clients/families living with escalating behaviours related to dementia.”

The application of learning and reflection on practice brings the process full circle and is an integral part of the Continuing Competency Program.

Adapted from:

College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba Continuing Competency Program Workbook

Personal Development Goals for Career Success, Indeed