Principle F

Principle F letterNurses and nursing staff have up-to-date knowledge and skills, and use these with intelligence, insight and understanding in line with the needs of each individual in their care.


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Principle F focuses on evidence-based practice, technical skills, education, training and clinical reasoning.

You may find the following commentary article about Principle F a useful starting point for exploring this Principle. It was published by the Nursing Standard as part of an introductory series on the Principles of Nursing Practice:
Gordon J, Watts C (2011) Applying skills and knowledge: Principles of Nursing Practice F. Nursing Standard 25(33) 20 April pp.35-37 (PDF 559KB) [see how to access PDF files].

Other useful resources are:

A selection of RCN resources which are particularly relevant to Principle F

The following resources and services produced by the RCN provide guidance and support to people wishing to use the Principles for quality improvement purposes or their own continuing professional development.  

To access any Learning Zone content you will be asked to enter your RCN membership number. If you require assistance with entering the Learning Zone, or would like further information on becoming a member of the RCN please contact RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100.

Being a flexible learner and Skills for active learning and Learn more effectively: these Learning Zone areas provide information and guidance on continuing lifelong learning and professional development. They sit within the Personal Skills section of the Learning Zone. Select the relevant learning area from the menu.

Clinical governance: staff focus: one of the themes in the clinical governance online resource, this signposts key policies, agencies, guidance and tools, including resources on competences, role development and redesign, training and education. 

Clinical guidelines: these publications have been developed by the RCN in collaboration with different stakeholders and include guidelines developed with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). They support care pathways based on evidence. Use of the guidelines in consultation with patients and/or carers and alongside the knowledge and skills of individual practitioners within the health care team can do much to ensure better outcomes for patients and provide more equitable care, avoiding variations.

In addition, online resources based around a number of these guidelines highlight recommendations and provide resources to support their implementation:

Diabetes: this online resource will help nurses and health care assistants (HCAs), whatever their area of practice, in caring for people with diabetes and updating their knowledge and skills in diabetes care. It signposts guidelines and guidance and other quality resources from across the UK.

First steps: this resource is a web-based toolkit containing induction information on a range of topics, from communication to basic clinical skills. This is contained in an innovative micro-site which allows visitors to chart what they have learnt and anything they would like to revisit. It is planned around the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework, and also links to a range of National Occupational Standards that can be printed off in the form of an assessment checklist.

Education Forum community: this RCN forum is relevant to all nurses who are involved with pre- and post-registration nursing education including continuing professional development.

Finding, using and managing information: Nursing, midwifery health and social care information literacy competences (2011)(PDF 1.44MB): this publication, which provides an information literacy competence framework to complement the RCN's clinical competence framework, aims to help nurses, midwives, health care assistants and nursing students develop their skills in using information and knowledge and apply this to their practice. The competences are intended to support the individual and the nursing team’s thinking about the information required to inform activities of varying complexity, and they are mapped to the Knowledge and Skills Framework and the Skills for Health competences. An RCN Learning Zone resource 'How trustworthy is your information' provides support in developing your skills in finding and using information and illustrates the competences in practice - see below for further details.

How trustworthy is your information? this Learning Zone area has been developed for nurses, midwives, students, and support workers in health and social care who may be routinely researching topics in support of their day-to-day work or studies. The learning is arranged around the RCN competences for information literacy (see Finding, using and managing information) and aims to help you identify and evaluate relevant information. It guides you through some of the issues and activities involved, including using information legally, inclusively and ethically, so that you develop your skills in accessing the right information at the right time, applying and communicating it appropriately. Stories told through a series of case studies using specific searches demonstrate the competences in practice.  The stories currently available are about searches undertaken by an infection control link nurse, a student and a health care assistant.

Integrated core career and competence framework for registered nurses (2009) (PDF 1.5MB): this publication brings together the core and specific dimensions of the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) that are relevant to nursing. It provides the basis for other specialised competences that have been developed by RCN membership groups working in collaboration with patients, users and other colleagues. The RCN has a range of career and competence frameworks for different areas of care.

Knowledge and Skills Framework: this webpage provides information about the Knowledge and Skills Framework, and provides links to a number of short guidance booklets produced by the RCN on using the KSF.

NICE consultation gateway: the NICE consultation gateway allows members of the RCN can contribute to evidence based guidance produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Portfolio and CV: this Learning Zone area is a place where nurses can capture information about their personal and professional development, including a portfolio, CV builder and career development resources.

Quality and Safety e-Bulletin: issued fortnightly and organised around key themes such as patient safety, quality improvement tools and techniques, patient focus and eHealth, the e-Bulletin will help to keep you up to date with new policy and guidance, initiatives, projects and publications across the four UK countries. There is a link to a simple form that you can use to register to receive copies. 

RCN forums: the RCN has 40 forum communities which allow health professionals to connect with each other and develop nursing care in a range of settings. RCN members can enhance their practice knowledge and skills and be part of a team that identifies, promotes and develops future nurse leaders in their chosen field.

RCN Research and Innovation Team: the RCN Research and Innovation Team aims to increase the capacity and capability of nurses working in research, and to support members' research activities through the Team's main areas of work: policy, networking and dissemination. You can register for the weekly Research e-bulletin which aims to keep you posted on the latest research and innovation developments. For further information and to register to receive the e-bulletin go to weekly bulletin.

RCN Research Institute
The RCN Research Institute undertakes research to improve patient care. The research themes are public and patient involvement, patient experiences, patient reported outcomes and getting research into practice.

Using your RCN e-library: this Learning Zone resource helps RCN members get the most from using the RCN e-library which enables access to over 700 e-journals, 400 e-books and a range of databases. There is an introduction to using the RCN e-library for literature searching and a step-by-step guides together with case studies and a quiz to check your understanding. (You will need to access this with your RCN membership number.)

Workplace resources for practice development (2007): this publication brings together resources that can be used as part of your practice development work either as an individual or as part of collaborative and team work. The resources could also be used as part of your wider professional development, for example contributing evidence to your portfolio. Copies of this can be ordered directly from RCND Publications publications@rcn.org.uk. They are available in CD format (publication code: 003534, £20) or paper format (publication code 003533, £60).

For further RCN publications see Publications

RCN library and heritage services e-library: provides a range of resources that RCN members can access for further information. These include full-text journals, databases, e-books and Fast searches which are up-to-date searches on frequently asked selected topics.