Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses with additional education and clinical experience. They are able to diagnose conditions, perform physical assessment, interpret diagnostic tests and prescribe medication within a holistic patient-centred framework (Collins & Small, 2019. Can Oncol Nurs J. 29: 4). The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for more nurses with advanced skills, such as prescribing, in our local area. These skills were required to support complex patients and their families in the home environment and achieve a good death.
The hospice identified the need to develop a programme which would support developmental roles in the community setting and provide a clinical career pathway. A 2-year programme was developed which identified key learning opportunities for those in the developmental roles, which could be accessed alongside their academic programme of study. Year 1 of the programme focused on learning opportunities, which increased the nurses’ clinical skills and supported their learning in history taking and physical assessment. Year 2 focused on learning opportunities, which supported their learning in relation to prescribing and consolidated their learning from year 1.
The aim of the programme was to provide staff with clear career progression, and a programme which would enable them to enter the role of Nurse Practitioner confidently and competently. Whilst formal evaluation is still to take place, the initial indications are that this is an effective programme and as such, the second cohort has been recruited to support succession planning within the organisation. The role has been popular and the career progression has aided retention of staff. The programme has been expanded into the Advice and Referral centre with two new development posts recruited to.
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