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An ethnographic study exploring the role of ward-based Advanced Nurse Practitioners in an acute medical setting

Authors

  • Susan Williamson,

    1. Susan Williamson BSc PhD RN, Senior Research Fellow, School of Health, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
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  • Timothy Twelvetree,

    1. Timothy Twelvetree BSc MPhil, Research Fellow, School of Nursing Midwifery and Health Visiting, University of Manchester, UK
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  • Jacqueline Thompson,

    1. Jacqueline Thompson BA (Nursing) MSc PGCE, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK
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  • Kinta Beaver

    1. Kinta Beaver BA MRes PhD, Professor of Cancer Nursing, School of Health, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
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S. Williamson: e-mail: swilliamson2@uclan.ac.uk

Abstract

williamson s., twelvetree t., thompson j. & beaver k. (2012) An ethnographic study exploring the role of ward-based Advanced Nurse Practitioners in an acute medical setting. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(7), 1579–1588.

Abstract

Aim.  This article is a report of a study that aimed to examine the role of ward-based Advanced Nurse Practitioners and their impact on patient care and nursing practice.

Background.  Revised doctor/nurse skill mix combined with a focus on improving quality of care while reducing costs has had an impact on healthcare delivery in the western world. Diverse advanced nursing practice roles have developed and their function has varied globally over the last decade. However, roles and expectations for ward-based Advanced Nurse Practitioners lack clarity, which may hinder effective contribution to practice.

Design.  An ethnographic approach was used to explore the advanced nurse practitioner role.

Methods.  Participant observation and interviews of five ward-based Advanced Nurse Practitioners working in a large teaching hospital in the North West of England during 2009 were complemented by formal and informal interviews with staff and patients. Data were descriptive and broken down into themes, patterns and processes to enable interpretation and explanation.

Results.  The overarching concept that ran through data analysis was that of Advanced Nurse Practitioners as a lynchpin, using their considerable expertise, networks and insider knowledge of health care not only to facilitate patient care but to develop a pivotal role facilitating nursing and medical practice. Sub-themes included enhancing communication and practice, acting as a role model, facilitating the patients’ journey and pioneering the role.

Conclusion.  Ward-based Advanced Nurse Practitioners are pivotal and necessary for providing quality holistic patient care and their role can be defined as more than junior doctor substitutes.

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