The Impact of the Supernumerary Clinical Nurse Educator on Graduate Nurse Patient Outcomes

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Tracey H. Coventry, PhD, RN, RM
Kylie P. Russell, PhD, RN
School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Australia

Theoretical and anecdotal evidence suggest the presence of the supernumerary clinical nurse educator (CNE) in the acute care hospital clinical environment will affect patient safety outcomes positively. However, the supernumerary role suffers from scrutiny in response to the financial constraints of healthcare organisations and is questioned regarding sustainability. The lack of empirical research diminishes the CNE role and its benefit for patient quality of care. This research focused on the newly qualified graduate registered nurse (GRN) employed within a graduate programme who is supported by the CNE in the clinical environment in order to articulate the impact of the supernumerary CNE on the GRNs’ patient outcomes. The mixed method research describes the CNE role specifically related to the GRNs’ transition to practice and the quality of their patient care. The results suggest the CNE value is in the supernumerary presence, through the educator resource rich role and experiential learning opportunities provided. These play a significant role in the GRNs’ successful transition to practice and clinical confidence. The ability of GRNs’ to safey engage in patient care is linked to CNE role translation into practice, promotion of evidence based care theory and policy into practice and progression of reflective practices influencing GRNs’ professionalism and maturity. The CNE role was identified as a congruent clinical leader; approachable and supportive, and connected and passionate about patient care. Undesirable attributes of the CNE role were associated with unsuitable personal attributes, incompatible relationships with the clinical nurse manager and GRN and an inability to meet the expectations and criteria of the role. Organisational demands of role reassignment and role relief produced role strain and conflict that reduced the value of the CNE role. The audience that will profit from this research will be present and future clinical nurse educators, nurses, clinical and administrative leaders and healthcare organisations. Implications of this study not only relate to the role of the CNE in supporting the transition to practice of the GRNs’ in the acute care hospital setting but also in their clinical leadership.