The contingent nature of advanced nursing practice
This paper examines the issues faced by advanced nurse practitioners in the United Kingdom as they attempt to implement a new role in practice. The discussion draws on evidence gathered during a longitudinal study of a small number of graduates from a Master’s degree programme who subsequently took up posts as advanced nurse practitioners. The paper focuses on one of the key findings to emerge from the inquiry, that of the identification of the contingent nature of advanced nursing practice. The data for the study were collected over a 2-year period via interviews, observation of clinical practice and self-report role development diaries. Following analysis it was revealed that, whilst the passage from experienced nurse to advanced nurse practitioner can be considered to be highly individual and complex, practitioners appear to move through three discrete stages during the transitional process. The first of the three stages is represented by a state of ‘idealism’ on the part of advanced practitioners. During the second phase, termed ‘organizational governance’, practitioners discover that, in contrast to their initial optimism, the orientation, goal and delivery of their role is controlled by key stakeholders within the organization. The final stage, ‘resolution’, is only reached when practitioners have been in post for more than 1 year and can be summarized as a state of acquiescence and compromise. A conceptual model is presented which illustrates the contingent nature of advanced nursing practice.