• advanced practice;
  • manager role;
  • mixed methods;
  • succession planning

currie k. & grundy m. (2011) Journal of Nursing Management19, 933–942

Building foundations for the future: the NHS Scotland advanced practice succession planning development pathway

Aim  To highlight implications for managers from the implementation of a national advanced practice succession planning development pathway within Scotland.

Background  Internationally, advanced practice posts have often developed in an ad-hoc manner, with little organizational attention to succession planning. Evaluation of a pilot national succession planning development pathway identified mechanisms which facilitate or hamper effective planning for advanced practice roles.

Methods  A responsive evaluation design incorporating semi-structured questionnaires to pathway participants (n = 15) and semi-structured telephone interviews with case-site pathway participants (n = 7) and their line managers.

Results  Managers believed the development pathway was worthwhile; however, there was limited strategic planning to match individuals’ development to service need. Practitioners generally perceived managers as interested in their development, although levels of practical support varied. There is concern from both managers and practitioners regarding ongoing funding for advanced practice development.

Conclusion  The present evaluation study reiterates the need for organizational commitment to succession planning including robust service needs analysis mechanisms and adequate funding for development processes.

Implications for nursing management  Nurse managers are viewed as the ‘gatekeepers’ to opportunities for developing advanced nurse practitioners; scare resources must be targeted effectively to support succession planning through the development of selected individuals for future advanced practice posts, justified by service need.