• advanced nursing practice;
  • case study;
  • innovative;
  • nurse specialist;
  • nursing role;
  • Stoma Coloproctology

Aims and objectives.  The aim of this paper is to provide insight into the role of a Stoma Coloproctology Nurse Specialist. This paper presents the findings of an in-depth case study of a stoma coloproctology nurse specialist employed in one health board area in Northern Ireland. This case study was part of a larger study exploring innovative nursing and midwifery roles in Northern Ireland.

Background.  Specialist nursing roles have evolved and developed in response to changing health care needs, patient expectations, changes in professional regulation and government initiatives.

Design.  A case study approach was adopted.

Method.  Semi-structured interviews with the post holder (PH), her line manager and the human resource manager were undertaken. Non-participant observation of the PH's practice was also carried out. Analysis was undertaken on secondary data such as job specification, annual reports and other documentation relating to the post.

Results.  Findings illustrate the PH's function and the impact of the role on patient care. Examples of innovative practices relating to providing care, support and guidance for patients and their families were identified; however, limitations to her role were also identified.

Conclusions.  The PH provides an invaluable service to patients, demonstrating a positive impact on care. However, the findings suggest the importance of establishing clear role boundaries, which may lead to professional growth and practice development.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Although this study provides a valuable insight into the role of a Stoma Coloproctology Nurse Specialist a number of challenges exist, as the CNS role requires policy and appropriate educational preparation to practice at an advanced level. Further research investigating the development of the CNS role in the clinical setting and its relationship to members of the multi-professional team would be beneficial.