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The clinical nurse specialist in New Zealand: How is the role defined?

Jennifer Roberts, RN, PG Cert (Nsg), MN, Nursing Lecturer, Faculty of Health & Sport Science, EIT Hawke’s Bay

Sue Floyd, RN, MN, Nursing Practicum Manager, Faculty of Health & Sport Science, EIT Hawke’s Bay

Shona Thompson, PhD, Research Fellow, Faculty of Health & Sport Science, EIT Hawke’s Bay

Roberts, J., Floyd, S., & Thompson, S. (2011). The clinical nurse specialist in New Zealand: How is the role defined? Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 27(2), 24-34.

Abstract

New Zealand, like many countries, is developing new advanced nursing practice roles to meet emerging needs. While much has been written about the Nurse Practitioner (NP), the role of Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) remains relatively unexplored and lacks national definition. This paper reports the findings from research designed to investigate the role of the CNS and how it is defined by New Zealand District Health Boards (DHBs). The study sought to identify the current requirements and expectations for the CNS role and how it is defined in practice. In 2008, 15 CNS job descriptions were collected from eight DHBs throughout the country generating data that were treated both quantitatively and qualitatively. Overall, few areas of consensus were found regarding the essential requirements for the CNS role and there were inconsistencies in how the roles were defined, most notably concerning requirements for postgraduate qualifications and Professional Development Recognition Programmes. Thematic analysis of the documents generated four key areas relevant to the CNS role. These described the CNS as a leader, a clinical expert, a co-ordinator and an educator. The findings indicate that the CNS role is inconsistently defined in New Zealand, particularly with respect to the postgraduate qualifications required and what is meant by ‘expertise’.

Key Words: Clinical nurse specialist, advanced nursing practice, clinical expert.

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