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Keywords:

  • clinical effectiveness;
  • clinical nurse specialist;
  • critical thinking;
  • practice development;
  • advanced nursing practice

Aim.  The aim of this article is to review the nursing literature on the notion of advanced nursing practice (ANP) and consequently provide clarifications on the concept of advanced nurse practitioner by developing its’ generic features.

Background.  This paper commences by critically reviewing the concept of advanced nursing practice as it is portrayed within the literature. From this review, a series of contradictions emerged in terms of definitions and roles. On further analysis of the literature the core aims and goals of the ANP are revealed.

Methods.  An informative and narrative systematic literature review was undertaken, using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. The mass of retrieved material was carefully screened and methods of data saturation were used. Consequently, the material was read, re-read and indexed as to develop seven thematic units that formed the generic features of the ANP.

Findings.  The generic features that emerged are: (i) the use of knowledge in practice, (ii) critical thinking and analytical skills, (iii) clinical judgement and decision-making skills, (iv) professional leadership and clinical inquiry, (v) coaching and mentoring skills, (vi) research skills and (vii) changing practice.

Conclusion.  Reviewing the literature on the concept of ANP, a great variety of definitions, conceptualizations and roles emerged. Nonetheless, on a closer reading, a common goal was identified, which was the attainment of practice and professional autonomy via ANP roles for enhanced practice provision. Eventually, from the reviewed literature, seven generic features of the ANP were developed, thus providing clarification to the role and the characteristics of the ANP.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Clarifying the confusion surrounding advanced nursing practice and gaining an in-depth understanding of its’ generic features would facilitate practitioners, practice educators and clinical managers to develop those skills that would allow them or their staff or students to practise at an advanced level.