Background With the introduction of a new role of Trainee Clinical Nurse Specialist (TCNS) to one hospice, a programme of education and competencies was required to support the role. This ideally would be integrated into a training programme for existing hospice staff, to create a unified knowledge-base. The teaching needed to be suitable to promote multi-professional education and a community of practice for staff working over several sites.
Aims To ensure that TCNSs received appropriate education to upskill them for their new role. To assess that competency in the role had been achieved. To build a common knowledge base across the entire clinical team.
Methods Competencies were written based on the job description for a CNS, national guidance on competency frameworks (Connolly, Ryan, Charnley. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2016; 6(2):237–242) and understanding of specialist palliative care (Griffith, 2018, Int J Palliat Nurs. 2018; 24(8):399–410). An education programme was devised, using constructive alignment to ensure that the relevant knowledge could be gained to achieve competence. Validated virtual technology (Lee, Kyeremateng, Taylor, et al. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2023;13(2):247–254) was used to reach all senior clinical staff, including virtual CNSs working remotely, and to ensure that a uniform understanding of all areas of competence was achieved.
Results Three-hour, monthly teaching sessions were held virtually over two years, covering the essential areas of the competencies. Senior clinicians from the nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and bereavement teams attended sessions relevant to their roles. The advanced programme has ensured uniformity of understanding across the organisation, whilst assessment with the competency portfolio has ensured that the TCNSs get the education that they need, and are assimilating the knowledge into practice. Regular review through competency sign off with the Education Team ensured that the programme continued to evolve and was shaped to address emerging needs.
Conclusion Using virtual technology and competency frameworks has ensured the creation of a community of practice within our senior clinical teams and supported development of our TCNSs.
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