General practice nurses' experiences of participation in an advanced nursing practice education programme
In the UK, transformation of the nursing workforce, including development of the role of the advanced nurse practitioner within general practice, is essential to meet healthcare demands. This article presents the results of a small, qualitative study conducted among students at one university in Scotland, describing their experiences of participation in advanced practice education. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews to generate in-depth descriptions and to identify the facilitators and barriers to learning. The study identified that a shared responsibility for patient care creates opportunities for learning. The facilitators to learning were identified as foundation level education in history taking and clinical examination, finance, having a supportive network and mentorship. Barriers included pressure of work and a lack of clarity about roles and training needs. Given the key role that these nurses will have in future healthcare models, there is a requirement for a national education standard. It is recommended that the Nursing and Midwifery Council leads on defining advanced nurse practitioner in general practice programme learning outcomes. The overall aim of such courses is to enhance the experience for future nurses to encourage recruitment and transform the nursing workforce.
The NHS in the UK is faced with a number of challenges, including an increase in the frail, elderly population, an increased demand for health and social care and significant health inequalities (Scottish Government, 2016). The modernisation of health care, including advanced professional roles for nursing and allied health professionals, is considered essential to address these challenges (Scottish Government, 2017a).
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) describes advanced nursing practice as:
‘Enhanced and expanded healthcare services and interventions provided by nurses who, in an advanced capacity, influence clinical healthcare outcomes and provide direct healthcare services to individuals, families and communities.’
The ICN (2020) goes on to define an advanced practice nurse as
‘One who has acquired, through additional education, the expert knowledge base, complex decision making skills and clinical competencies for expanded nursing practice.’
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