Since the 1980s, the emergency nurse practitioner (ENP) role has evolved as increasing socioeconomic pressures and changing government policy have led to new working practices in emergency departments. Similarly, a lack of consensus regarding educational support for ENPs and the regulation of ENP training, mean that variations remain in the scope of practice, role description and academic requirements for ENPs.
Aim To explore ENPs’ perceptions of their changing role, including their educational requirements and whether their training needs are being met.
Method This qualitative phenomenological study examined the views of six ENPs using semi-structured interviews.
Findings The study identified four themes: inadequate protected time for continuing professional development (CPD); importance of senior medical support in role expansion and CPD; inconsistent educational preparation for expanded roles; and the ENPs’ perceived reasons for role expansion. Although all the participants stated that it was challenging to find time for CPD when working in busy clinical environments, this was regarded as less important than the positive effect of senior medical support for advanced roles.
Conclusion Over the past three decades, the ENP role has become well established, which has led to increased confidence, and the development of collaborative ways of working, among ENPs and their colleagues. However, while ENPs have embraced the challenges of their changing role, educational support has not been consistent. There are still disparities in ENPs’ scope of practice, expectations of the role between services, and the educational preparation required to undertake the role.
32, 26, 41-50.
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Conflict of interest
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Received: 25 November 2016
Accepted: 28 December 2017