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Keywords:

  • clinical nurse manager;
  • clinical leadership;
  • clinical learning environment;
  • job satisfaction;
  • continuing professional development;
  • educational consortia

The changing training needs of clinical nurse managers: exploring issues for continuing professional development

Aims of the study. To identify areas where clinical nurse managers perceived that they would benefit from further training and to make recommendations for planning future programmes to meet their needs.

Background. The effectiveness of the clinical nurse manager has traditionally been associated with maintaining standards of care. Continuing professional development (CPD) is essential to ensure this important group feel adequately prepared to perform their role and has been recognized as an important factor in maintaining job satisfaction and reducing wasteful staff turnover. A review of the literature indicated that since the 1980s the CPD needs of clinical nurse managers have tended to be overlooked despite increasing complexity of the tasks expected of them. Thus it appeared that a fresh study to address these needs would be justified and should take into account sources of work-related stress and variables relating to job satisfaction.

Methods. The study involved clinical nurse managers employed in all four acute hospital National Health Service (NHS) trusts where training needs were served by a major inner city educational consortium. Data collection proceeded in two stages. Initially interviews were undertaken with a random sample of 15 clinical nurse managers to provide in-depth, qualitative data. This information was used to develop a survey questionnaire distributed to the remaining 182 clinical nurse managers in each of the trusts.

Results. Data from the interviews indicated that clinical nurse managers appeared to feel clinically competent but generally experienced lack of confidence when dealing with a range of issues, in particular; human resources, managing budgets, deputizing for senior colleagues across the trust (‘acting up’) and using information technology in everyday practice. Response rate to the survey was good (65%). The results corroborated the interview findings, indicating a need for updating in the same wide range of topics. There were few differences in training needs across all four trusts. Clinical nurse managers who perceived that they had been well-prepared for their role demonstrated higher levels of job satisfaction. Perceived preparation for clinical leadership was the same irrespective of the employing trust, length of time in post and other sociodemographic variables.

Conclusions. The study findings confirm that CPD remains a major issue for clinical nurse managers in the United Kingdom (UK) and that providing opportunities for such development may be an important factor in enhancing job satisfaction. The study findings should help those providing CPD to plan more effectively for this group and have implications for staff recruitment and retention.