What began as an ad hoc committee to work on the annual skills day evolved into a year-round program to educate the nursing staff of the critical care unit at Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Hayward, Calif. The impetus to expand a competency program throughout the year was 2-fold. One goal was to accommodate the changing mix and influx of new nurses on our unit; the other was to promote continued learning as important for professionals at any skill level. We wanted to expand a competency program throughout the year to foster critical thinking in a nonthreatening environment, yet have fun. Essentially, we wanted to raise the professional bar in our unit.

Our busy medical-surgical CCU is a16-bed unit staffed by approximately 60 nurses. The core staff has been employed for more than 12 years, and the median experience is 20...

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