Aims and objectives. This study aimed to evaluate the perceived impact of the nurse consultant through the lived experience of the staff.
Background. Ambiguities exist about the nature, function and value of the nurse consultant role to the individual, nursing and the UK National Health Service.
Design. A descriptive qualitative research design was developed to evaluate the perceived impact of the nurse consultant through the lived experience of staff by the use of a 360-degree semi-structured interview framework. Interviews were undertaken with executive, senior managers, medical, nursing and allied healthcare professional colleagues. The study was based on three nurse consultants working at a University Hospital in the North East of England. A collaborative purposive sampling technique was used involving 10 participants to provide detailed, objective and relevant information associated with the nurse consultant role.
Findings. Thirty semi-structured interviews were undertaken. A thematic analysis using Bowling's approach to deciphering interview data revealed nine primary categories. With the exception of the personal qualities, the nurse consultant brings to the role. A series of generalist themes emerged associated with how the role can be enhanced in the future by involving, informing and engaging staff and by developing a phased approach to implementing and evaluating the role.
Conclusions. The findings indicate that the continued success of the nurse consultant role is associated with developing a more structured approach to implementation and evaluation within the employing organizations.
Relevance to clinical practice. Awareness of the nurse consultant should be raised through communication, clarification of expectations by engaging and supporting the staff in the acceptance of the role. Organizationally there should be a more phased approach to establishing, implementing and evaluating the nurse consultant.