In view of the likelihood that the complexity of care required by those admitted to nursing homes will continue to increase, an expert consensus study was conducted to reach consensus on the competencies which distinguish baccalaureate-educated registered nurses from other nursing staff working in nursing homes. Thirty-one international experts, identified through literature and our professional network, participated in a two-round web-based survey and an expert meeting. Experts reached consensus on 16 desirable competencies, including some not traditionally associated with nursing expertise e.g. being a team leader, role model and coach within the nursing team. These findings suggest that revision of current nursing curricula, nurse training programs and nursing home job profiles might be needed to meet the medically and psychologically complex needs of nursing home residents.