Contemporary Nursing Roles

Next it would be important to explore contemporary nursing roles in the UK. Currently in the UK 'advanced practice nurses' have many titles and roles. For evidence of this one just needs to flick through recent copies of the job sections of nursing magazines. Nurses undertaking the same role may have different titles, and nurses with the same title are often practising at different levels or even performing different jobs (Ibbotson, 1999).The titles 'nurse practitioner', 'nurse clinician', and 'clinical nurse specialist', to name but a few, are often used interchangeably (Manley, 1997) and this use of multiple titles is cause for concern (Wright, 1997). Confusions as to levels of practice and their required educational preparations bewilder both nurses and managers alike (Wright, 1997; McCreaddie, 2001). For example some nurse practitioner posts are banded at 5-6, and require little more than initial undergraduate education, while others are banded at 8B, and require a Master's-prepared nurse. Patients and other healthcare professionals are perplexed by this myriad of roles and titles (Ormond-Walshe & Newham, 2001), as they often don't know what to expect from the healthcare practitioner sitting in front of them.

These challenges are mirrored in the nursing literature, where assumptions are made regarding titles and their implied levels of practice. For example because they share the same basic role components (Ormond-Walshe & Newham, 2001) 'Clinical Nurse Specialist' and 'Nurse Practitioner' are often referred to in terms of both specialist and advanced practice. Even when looking at research about nurse practitioner roles, very little reference was made to 'defining' what was meant by 'advanced practice'. This makes discussing roles and levels of practice difficult, owing to inconsistencies among the titles and grades (Cattini & Knowles, 1999). Therefore it would be important to establish what is meant by these terms and discuss the difference between them.

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