Expert Nurse

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Chapter 1


As our profession evolves, competency in a rapidly changing healthcare environment remains a key component of excellent nursing care. Competency gives us confidence to care for our patients. But developing competency is but one step to becoming an expert nurse. Nurses’ expertise grows over the years — a product of experiences (Saver, 2009).

The importance of nursing practice expertise in modern and effective health services and its impact on patients, colleagues and health care services is internationally recognized (Manley and Webster, 2006). Expert nurses - nurse consultants, specialist nurses and clinical leaders - possess expertise that spans and integrates interpersonal and technical components and deliver against a number of requirements. These include improving patient care and the individual patient experience, meeting government targets in practice, and contributing to organisational innovation and service improvement. Nurse consultants have an additional strategic responsibility to deliver on these areas.

Expert nursing is considered an important part of achieving high-quality patient care (Aitken 2003). The benefits of expert nursing practice are far-reaching, yet we know little how to promote it and what conditions foster its development (Williams, 1996, p.iv). There is a lack of formalized systematic approaches to foster nursing practice-based skill development and continuous learning beyond the initial orientation stages and beginner stages, despite the potential for superior outcomes associated with expert nursing performance (Santucci, 2004).

Adding to the problem is the absence of a common definition of what constitutes expert practice in nursing, despite years of nursing research yielding a rich description of expert performance in nursing (Benner, 1984, 1994; Benner & Benner, 1999; Haag-Heitman, 1999; McGregor, 1991).

Background of the Study

The researcher has been in...
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