Journal of Professional Nursing

Work-role transition: From staff nurse to clinical nurse educator

Liz Manning, RN, MPhil, MCNA(NZ), Project Manager Future Workforce, District Health Boards New Zealand, Wellington
Stephen Neville, RN, PhD, FCNA(NZ), Senior Lecturer & Postgraduate Programme Co-ordinator, School of Health and Social Services, Massey University, Auckland

Reference:  Manning, L., & Neville, S. (2009). Work-role transition: From staff nurse to clinical nurse educator. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 25(2), 41-53.

1 Throughout the article the authors will refer to registered nurses employed in non designated positions as staff nurses. Registered nurses in designated positions will be referred to as senior nurses, or a title specific to their role such as clinical nurse specialist.


This article presents the findings of a study describing Clinical Nurse Educators' experiences, as they recall their transition from staff nurse¹ to the Clinical Nurse Educator role, within a New Zealand District Health Board. Nurse Educator roles influence clinical practice and professional development of nurses, and although designated as a senior role nationally, the complexities and size of the role are poorly understood. A qualitative descriptive methodology utilising transition theory as a conceptual framework underpinned the study. A sample of eight Clinical Nurse Educators from a New Zealand District Health Board were interviewed about their transition from experienced staff nurse to inexperienced senior nurse. Data were analysed using a general inductive approach. Participants found the Clinical Nurse Educator role was more complex than anticipated, with no preparation for the role and sub-optimal orientation periods being provided by the District Health Board. As a result, signs of stress were evident as the enormity of the role became apparent. Consequently, employers need to ensure that appropriate orientation programmes and mentorship are inherent in health care organisations.

Transition, leadership, clinical nurse educator, mentorship

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCAA, 2003) requires registered nurses in New Zealand to provide evidence of competence within a scope of practice as detailed by the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ). In a competitive recruitment market access to in-house education is a potential recruitment and retention strategy as nurses seek access to free education in order to meet continuing competence requirements for their annual practising certificates. Many District Health Boards (DHBs) have responded to this by establishing Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) roles embedded across the various specialty areas, to provide registered nursing staff with ongoing practice education. This article presents a description of........cont.

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