The acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) role was developed in Canada in the late 1980s to offset rapidly increasing physician workloads in acute care settings and to address the lack of continuity of care for seriously ill patients and increased complexity of care delivery. These challenges provided an opportunity to develop an advanced practice nursing role to care for critically ill patients with the intent of improving continuity of care and patient outcomes. For this paper, we drew on the ACNP-related findings of a scoping review of the literature and key informant interviews conducted for a decision support synthesis on advanced practice nursing. The synthesis revealed that ACNPs are working in a range of clinical settings. While ACNPs are trained at the master's level, there is a gap in specialty education for ACNPs. Important barriers to the full integration of ACNP roles into the Canadian healthcare system include lack of full utilization of role components, limitations to scope of practice, inconsistent team acceptance and funding issues. Facilitators to ACNP role implementation include clear communication about the role, with messages tailored to the specific information needs of various stakeholder groups; supportive leadership of healthcare managers; and stable and predictable funding. The status of ACNP roles continues to evolve across Canada. Ongoing leadership and continuing research are required to enhance the integration of these roles into our healthcare system.
The objective of this decision support synthesis was to identify and review published and grey literature and to conduct stakeholder interviews to (1) describe the distinguishing characteristics of clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and nurse practitioner (NP) role definitions and competencies relevant to Canadian contexts, (2) identify the key barriers and facilitators for the effective development and utilization of CNS and NP roles and (3) inform the development of evidence-based recommendations for the individual, organizational and system supports required to better integrate CNS and NP roles into the Canadian healthcare system and advance the delivery of nursing and patient care services in Canada. Four types of advanced practice nurses (APNs) were the focus: CNSs, primary healthcare nurse practitioners (PHCNPs), acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) and a blended CNS/NP role. We worked with a multidisciplinary, multijurisdictional advisory board that helped identify documents and key informant interviewees, develop interview questions and formulate implications from our findings. We included 468 published and unpublished English- and French-language papers in a scoping review of the literature. We conducted interviews in English and French with 62 Canadian and international key informants (APNs, healthcare administrators, policy makers, nursing regulators, educators, physicians and other team members). We conducted four focus groups with a total of 19 APNs, educators, administrators and policy makers. A multidisciplinary roundtable convened by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation formulated evidence-informed policy and practice recommendations based on the synthesis findings. This paper forms the foundation for this special issue, which contains 10 papers summarizing different dimensions of our synthesis. Here, we summarize the synthesis methods and the recommendations formulated at the roundtable.
School of Nursing and Department of Oncology, McMaster University, CHSRF/CIHR Program in Advanced Practice Nursing, Canadian Centre of Excellence in Oncology Advanced Practice Nursing at the Juravinski Cancer Centre, Hamilton, ON.
Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont). 2010 Dec;23 Spec No 2010:140-66
The clinical nurse specialist (CNS) provides an important clinical leadership role for the nursing profession and broader healthcare system; yet the prominence and deployment of this role have fluctuated in Canada over the past 40 years. This paper draws on the results of a decision support synthesis examining advanced practice nursing roles in Canada. The synthesis included a scoping review of the Canadian and international literature and in-depth interviews with key informants including CNSs, nurse practitioners, other health providers, educators, healthcare administrators, nursing regulators and government policy makers. Key challenges to the full integration of CNSs in the Canadian healthcare system include the paucity of Canadian research to inform CNS role implementation, absence of a common vision for the CNS role in Canada, lack of a CNS credentialing mechanism and limited access to CNS-specific graduate education. Recommendations for maximizing the potential and long-term sustainability of the CNS role to achieve important patient, provider and health system outcomes in Canada are provided.
Title confusion and lack of role clarity pose barriers to the integration of advanced practice nursing roles (i.e., clinical nurse specialist [CNS] and nurse practitioner [NP]). Lack of awareness and understanding about NP and CNS roles among the healthcare team and the public contributes to ambiguous role expectations, confusion about NP and CNS scopes of practice and turf protection. This paper draws on the results of a scoping review of the literature and qualitative key informant interviews conducted for a decision support synthesis commissioned by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and the Office of Nursing Policy in Health Canada. The goal of this synthesis was to develop a better understanding of advanced practice nursing roles and the factors that influence their effective development and integration in the Canadian healthcare system. Specific recommendations from interview participants and the literature to enhance title and role clarity included the use of consistent titles for NP and CNS roles; the creation of a vision statement to articulate the role of CNSs and NPs across settings; the use of a systematic planning process to guide role development and implementation; the development of a communication strategy to educate healthcare professionals, the public and employers about the roles; attention to inter-professional team dynamics when introducing these new roles; and addressing inter-professionalism in all health professional education program curricula.
In Canada, education programs for the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and nurse practitioner (NP) roles began 40 years ago. NP programs are offered in almost all provinces. Education for the CNS role has occurred through graduate nursing programs generically defined as providing preparation for advanced nursing practice. For this paper, we drew on pertinent sections of a scoping review of the literature and key informant interviews conducted for a decision support synthesis on advanced practice nursing to describe the following: (1) history of advanced practice nursing education in Canada, (2) current status of advanced practice nursing education in Canada, (3) curriculum issues, (4) interprofessional education, (5) resources for education and (6) continuing education. Although national frameworks defining advanced nursing practice and NP competencies provide some direction for education programs, Canada does not have countrywide standards of education for either the NP or CNS role. Inconsistency in the educational requirements for primary healthcare NPs continues to cause significant problems and interferes with inter-jurisdictional licensing portability. For both CNSs and NPs, there can be a mismatch between a generalized education and specialized practice. The value of interprofessional education in facilitating effective teamwork is emphasized. Recommendations for future directions for advanced practice nursing education are offered.
A framework for the introduction and evaluation of APN roles emphasizes the importance of a systematic approach to role development based on the assessment of patient health needs. This study determined the health-related quality of life (HRQL) of patients with prostate cancer. The most frequent and severe patient health problems and their perceptions of priority health problems were identified and compared across five patient groups as a strategy to inform the supportive care role of the advanced oncology nurse for patients with advanced prostate cancer. The study found that the majority of men with early stage and advanced hormone sensitive prostate cancer can expect to enjoy good quality of life for several years following diagnosis. These two patient groups have common priority needs for improving their health related to sexual function, urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, and physical activity. Both groups may benefit from an advanced practice nursing (APN) role that can provide episodic supportive care for health problems occurring at different treatment stages. Conversely, it was found that men with advanced hormone refractory prostate cancer experience significantly poorer HRQL and have multiple severe health problems. These patients also have different priority needs including problems related to pain, fatigue, and decreased physical activity. Because of this, the focus of supportive care programs and interventions in advanced prostate cancer will differ for those with hormone refractory disease. They may benefit more from an APN role that can provide ongoing rather than episodic supportive care to assess and manage the multiple, new, and worsening health problems associated with progressive disease.
Although advanced practice nurses (APNs) have existed in Canada for over 40 years and there is abundant evidence of their safety and effectiveness, their full integration into our healthcare system has not been fully realized. For this paper, we drew on pertinent sections of a scoping review of the Canadian literature from 1990 onward and interviews or focus groups with 81 key informants conducted for a decision support synthesis on advanced practice nursing to identify the factors that enable role development and implementation across the three types of APNs: clinical nurse specialists, primary healthcare nurse practitioners and acute care nurse practitioners. For development of advanced practice nursing roles, many of the enabling factors occur at the federal/provincial/territorial (F/P/T) level. They include utilization of a pan-Canadian approach, provision of high-quality education, and development of appropriate legislative and regulatory mechanisms. Systematic planning to guide role development is needed at both the F/P/T and organizational levels. For implementation of advanced practice nursing roles, some of the enabling factors require action at the F/P/T level. They include recruitment and retention, role funding, intra-professional relations between clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, public awareness, national leadership support and role evaluation. Factors requiring action at the level of the organization include role clarity, healthcare setting support, implementation of all role components and continuing education. Finally, inter-professional relations require action at both the F/P/T and organizational levels. A multidisciplinary roundtable formulated policy and practice recommendations based on the synthesis findings, and these are summarized in this paper.
Advanced practice nursing has evolved over the years to become recognized today as an important and growing trend among healthcare systems worldwide. To understand the development and current status of advanced practice nursing within a Canadian context, it is important to explore its historical roots and influences. The purpose of this paper is to provide a historical overview of the major influences on the development of advanced practice nursing roles that exist in Canada today, those roles being the nurse practitioner and the clinical nurse specialist. Using a scoping review and qualitative interviews, data were summarized according to three distinct time periods related to the development of advanced practice nursing. They are the early beginnings; the first formal wave, between the mid 1960s and mid 1980s; and the second wave, beginning in the late 1980s and continuing to the present. This paper highlights how advanced practice nursing roles have evolved over the years to meet emerging needs within the Canadian healthcare system. A number of influential factors have both facilitated and hindered the development of the roles, despite strong evidence to support their effectiveness. Given the progress over the past few decades, the future of advanced practice nursing within the Canadian healthcare system is promising.
In Canada, adolescent survivors of cancer are treated mainly at pediatric centers, while young adults are treated at adult centers. Both care environments are reported as being inappropriate and do not fulfill the needs of adolescents and young adults (AYA). The purpose of this study was to investigate supportive care needs (SCN) of AYA survivors of cancer.
Qualitative description and a systematic literature review (SLR) were used to explore this topic. For the qualitative study, a purposive sample of AYA survivors (15 to 25 years of age) was recruited from a pediatric and an adult cancer program in one area of Ontario, Canada. Interviews were conducted, recorded digitally, and transcribed verbatim. Line-by-line coding was used to establish themes and subthemes. The SLR entailed a systematic search of electronic databases from their date of inception to October 2011. Two screeners worked independently to screen abstracts, titles, and relevant full-text articles. Findings from both studies were synthesized.
Twenty interviews were conducted for the qualitative study. For the SLR, 760 citations were identified, of which 12 met inclusion criteria. The most commonly reported SCN, from both studies, were social needs, information sharing and communication needs, and service provision needs.
Comparison of findings from both studies reveals many overlapping (e.g., entertainment for teens) and novel (e.g., collaboration) themes. Study results will be used to inform the potential development of a comprehensive healthcare program for AYA.