Paediatric endocrine nurse specialists: roles, education and aspirations
Pauline Musson1 & Jacquie Collin2
Introduction: Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) practice at an advanced level of nursing. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) competency framework for paediatric endocrine nurses sets out expected levels of practice and academic attainment for competent, experienced and expert practitioners. This paper reports the findings of an initial scoping exercise undertaken to explore current roles, academic attainment and aspirations of this group of nurses in order to inform their future education provision and further research into their clinical roles.
Methods: Utilising the RCN competency framework a questionnaire was developed and sent by post and email to 36 CNS across UK and Ireland. The questionnaire aimed to elicit information about educational attainment, clinical grading, clinical activity, barriers and motivation for further study, and aspirations for development. Data were anonymised prior to analysis.
Results: 86% responded.CNS posts are banded between 6 and 8a with no clear delineation of roles between bands. Difference in academic attainment varied from no formal academic study to attainment of MSc and one CNS was studying for PhD. Main motivators to further study were self development or requirements of current post. Barriers to study included family commitments and lack of funding. A significant number indicated that they were not willing to undertake further study as there was no financial benefit or increase in banding available.
Conclusion: Mapping the findings against the RCN competency framework identifies broad variation in clinical activity and responsibilities undertaken by this group of nurses. The resulting role ambiguity is significant for individual security and career progression and role expansion within paediatric endocrinology. Further research needs to be undertaken to strengthen the agreed set of role expectations in the competency framework and develop a national structure for future education.