A phenomenological investigation into the role the clinical nurse specialist


  • Chrissie Bousfield BSc (Hons)RGN

    1. Nurse Teacher, University of Nottingham, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Education Centre, Avenue House, Ashfield Avenue, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG18 2AE, England
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This research study adopts a phenomenological approach to investigate how a group of clinical nurse specialists think and experience their role. It reviews the literature on the clinical nurse specialist from 1943, when Frances Reiter first coined the phrase ‘nurse clinician’, to the present time, when individuals are committed to a range of initiatives aimed at improving the quality of the British National Health Service and patient care. The study investigates and analyses their views and conveys the personal meaning of clinical nurse specialists ‘lived experience’ in the role. Findings of the study suggest that clinical nurse specialists are experienced practitioners who strive to be in positions in which they influence patient care and utilize advanced knowledge, expertise and leadership skills in a multidisciplinary environment. The literature proposes that for the role to be recognized and accepted individuals need to be educated at an advanced level, demonstrate practice based in research and have a firm base as a specialist in nursing. The findings clearly suggest that while the role of the clinical nurse specialist can be influenced in a positive manner by the organization and guided by the individual, it is important to acknowledge that the role is in a transitional phase. Finally, the research suggest the importance of establishing a clear role definition in a creative and supportive environment allowing for a autonomy, professional growth and the development of individuals as clinically competent nurse specialists.