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Research shows benefits of advanced practitioner role

Role is welcome addition to clinical careers, particularly for nursing

Nursing ManagementAdvanced practitioners are more effective when they have supportive managers with a clear vision for developing the role based on skill and service need, say researchers.

University of Salford researchers have investigated how nurses in advanced practitioner (AP) roles apply their learning in the workplace.

In 2005, the university launched a master of science degree course in advanced practice (health and social care). The aim was to prepare students for advanced practice roles as part of a workforce modernisation strategy for the north west of England.

Given that the effects of the AP roles on service outcomes are difficult to quantify, the researchers undertook a study to evaluate the longer term effects of the programme and address gaps in knowledge.

Writing in the journal Nursing Management, the researchers reported that graduates of the master course apply a significant amount of learning in practice, their learning is relevant to their roles and all participants demonstrated a positive impact of their work on services.

'During the observational part of the study, many other staff volunteered comments about advanced practice and APs. All the comments were positive and several staff suggested that they could not see how their departments could function without APs,' the authors said.

However, APs tend to be more effective and have higher levels of autonomy where managers support and understand their roles and their potential benefits.

'Results suggest that APs are most flexible when they retain the breadth and depth pf their knowledge and skills, and senior managers may wish to take account of this alongside other CPD needs of APs working in highly specialised areas,' the authors said.

'This is particularly important when patients' needs involve one body system.'

The AP role is new in the UK and the researchers have made seven recommendations for further improving and developing the role, including that formal clinical supervision should be implemented for all APs.

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Effects of advanced practitioners' learning in one hospital

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