Identifying Competencies of the ACT Program Nurse Using the DACUM Method

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Issues in Mental Health Nursing

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The nurse role on an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team requires a specialized set of skills in psychiatric community-based care. While the ACT model has existed for fifty years, no nationally recognized standard curriculum to train ACT nurses has been developed. The ACT Nursing Project described in this paper aimed to create a competency-based on-board training program using the Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) method. Eight ACT nurses from three states served as the expert panel to create a DACUM chart detailing the full set of nine duties and 127 tasks required of ACT nurses. To verify the DACUM results, 57 ACT nurses from four states completed a survey and confirmed that 80% of the tasks identified by the expert panel were also performed by the validation sample of ACT nurses. This paper describes how the DACUM duties and tasks provided the framework to develop onboard training curriculum for ACT program nurses. The next step is to pilot the onboard training curriculum to newly hired ACT nurses to ensure they are equipped to meet the complex needs of people living with serious mental illness, and to increase their competency, job satisfaction and decrease the high annual turnover rate among ACT nurses.


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