• clinical nurse consultant;
  • domains of role;
  • grading;
  • managers;
  • New South Wales

Aims  This paper reports phase one of a two-part study in a New South Wales area health service, which aimed to evaluate the grading system for clinical nurse consultants.

Background  Since its inception in 1986, the role and scope of practice of clinical nurse consultants in New South Wales has been viewed with differing expectations leading to role conflict from the nurse consultants themselves and others in health care including managers and other clinicians.

Method  A quantitative approach was used for this study. A survey comprising of open and closed questions was mailed to all clinical nurse consultants (n = 42) employed in the area.

Results  The data presented suggest that ambiguity continues about the role, the scope and the differences within the grading system of clinical nurse consultants.

Conclusions  Clinical nurse consultants need leadership training and support from their managers to fulfil their role. More work is required to clarify the role of clinical nurse consultants.