Marking out the clinical expert/clinical leader/clinical scholar: Perspectives from nurses in the clinical arena

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
BMC Nursing, 2013, 12 (1)
Issue Date:
2013-04-15
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Background: Clinical scholarship has been conceptualised and theorised in the nursing literature for over 30 years but no research has captured nurses' clinicians' views on how it differs or is the same as clinical expertise and clinical leadership. The aim of this study was to determine clinical nurses' understanding of the differences and similarities between the clinical expert, clinical leader and clinical scholar.Methods: A descriptive interpretative qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews with 18 practising nurses from Australia, Canada and England. The audio-taped interviews were transcribed and the text coded for emerging themes. The themes were sorted into categories of clinical expert, clinical leader and clinical scholarship as described by the participants. These themes were then compared and contrasted and the essential elements that characterise the nursing roles of the clinical expert, clinical leader and clinical scholar were identified.Results: Clinical experts were seen as linking knowledge to practice with some displaying clinical leadership and scholarship. Clinical leadership is seen as a positional construct with a management emphasis. For the clinical scholar they linked theory and practice and encouraged research and dissemination of knowledge.Conclusion: There are distinct markers for the roles of clinical expert, clinical leader and clinical scholar. Nurses working in one or more of these roles need to work together to improve patient care. An 'ideal nurse' may be a blending of all three constructs. As nursing is a practice discipline its scholarship should be predominantly based on clinical scholarship. Nurses need to be encouraged to go beyond their roles as clinical leaders and experts to use their position to challenge and change through the propagation of knowledge to their community. © 2013 Mannix et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
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