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Keywords:

  • Advanced Practice in ICU;
  • Advanced Practice/Nurse Specialist Roles;
  • Developing New Clinical Roles;
  • Education and Training of ICU Nurses;
  • Qualitative Research;
  • Role Transition

Aim: This article is a report of a study of the experiences of expert critical care nurses in their transition to the role of advanced nurse practitioner within an intensive care unit (ICU) setting.

Background: The advanced nurse practitioner role was developed to support the ICU team and to undertake many of the roles traditionally associated with junior medical staff in this specialized area. The impetus for this study therefore was generated from the need to explore the role development experiences of trainee advanced nurse practitioners to inform future developments and practice.

Methods: This study used grounded theory methodology to conduct and analyse data from 25 participants. The data were collected between March 2010 and August 2010, using interview format. Data collection and analysis was conducted simultaneously using methods associated with grounded theory, theoretical sampling and the constant comparative method.

Results:‘Staying the course to advanced nursing practice’ emerged as the core category, with four related major categories and substantive codes. In conjunction, the substantive theory explaining the essential processes involved comprised of three inextricably linked processes: situational, development and conceptual meaning. The developed conceptual model captures the unique experiences of expert critical care nurses during their transition to confident and competent advanced nurse practitioners.

Conclusion: This study provides an account of the role transition from expert critical care nurse to advanced nurse practitioner, specifically the synthesis of expert nursing practice with traditional medical values. The conceptual model has the potential to be utilized as a framework for others embarking upon similar projects, informing advanced nurse practitioner roles within and out with critical care settings.