Accrediting advanced practice – who will really benefit?

I was lucky enough last month to attend the 2017 RCN advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) conference in London.

The title of the conference referred to ‘moving the agenda forward’ and there were lots of examples of how ANPs are pioneering services across an incredible range of services: emergency care, primary care, acute medicine, mental health and so on.

RCN credentialing 

Not surprisingly, there was also plenty of discussion about what it means to be an ANP, and how nurses with such a title can be accredited for their skills and education. This is not a new subject, but it is one made topical by an initiative, due to be launched next month, April, aimed at ‘credentialing’ the role.

And it looks like not all ANPs are expected to meet the criteria the college has set. According to RCN associate consultant Karen Lynas for example, credentialing will recognise only nurses ‘working genuinely at the boundaries of their practice’.

The college seems determined that ANP credentialing has genuine value for the practitioners concerned, so that the accreditation has currency wherever they may want to work. This is essential if enough ANPs are going to pay the £350 it costs to be accredited for three years – enough for it to be widely recognised. After all, the scheme is not mandatory.

'Loss leader'

The RCN is naturally keen on the initiative not being seen as a money spinner. RCN associate credentialing consultant and ANP forum committee member Shirley Reveley told the conference last month: ‘It’s not a way of the RCN making money; if anything, it’s a loss leader.’ And of course it must enable the provision of better patient care.

However, how much appetite employers across the UK have for the scheme remains unclear. ANPs may relish the chance at last to have their skills and education recognised, but are employer organisations going to be as thrilled? If they are, that really will be ‘moving the agenda forward’. 

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