Time to Consider the Special Character of Specialist Nursing

Thursday, 15 July 2010: 10:50 AM

Kathryn T. Holloway, RN, BN, MHSc, PGCertOnlineEd, FCNA(NZ)
Faculty of Health, Whitireia Community Polytechnic, Porirua, New Zealand
Jacqueline Baker, RN, PhD
Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Judy Lumby, RN, PhD, MHPEd, BA, FCN(NSW), FRCNA
Centre for Evidence-based Nursing in SA, The Joanna Briggs Institute, Adelaide, Australia

Learning Objective 1: Understand the structure for specialist nursing in New Zealand

Learning Objective 2: Understand the challenges of building a national consensus framework using a capability model

Nurses have a social contract with the community to ensure that the public is provided with safe and appropriate health care.  There is clear evidence that a competent, confident and regulated health workforce is a critical part of a society’s well being across most developed economies. Influences such as consumer pressure for specific services, rapid technological changes, developing government policy and resultant changes to other roles in the health workforce continue to shape health care provision.  
This has created in New Zealand (as elsewhere) a need for specialist nurses who are highly capable and able to work across settings. Communities need to be confident in their expectations of professional service that purports to go beyond the regulated entry to the profession. The shaping of specialist nursing practice through an understanding of professional knowledge development and clarity in career frameworks is of clear relevance to the profession internationally. Not a new idea but rather an increasingly important one for workforce planning policy makers. 
The current healthcare context in New Zealand, as in many developed countries, is characterized by our Ministry of Health as demanding increased cost effectiveness and quality with the optimal use of limited health workforce resources. The expectation that nurses are able to clearly define and frame the contribution their knowledge and expertise makes to health outcomes is both a political necessity and a professional responsibility. The notion of exploring specialist practice framework as support for evidence-based workforce planning and development of educational curricula to support workforce development is compelling and timely.
This paper will present the outcome of a doctoral study that incorporated a Delphi approach with a critical examination of relevant international and national literature and key stakeholder perspectives to develop a national capability framework for specialist nursing in New Zealand – an idea whose time has come.