A new monograph by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) brings into sharp focus the growing debate on whether the roles of two key types of advanced practice nurses should be merged or remain separate.
The monograph, Role Differentiation of the Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist: Reaching Toward Consensus, presents the proceedings of AACN's conference on masters education in nursing held in December 1994.
As advanced registered nurses, both nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists are prepared typically in master's degree programs. However/ while NPs focus on delivering front-line primary health care, such as conducting physical exams; diagnosing and treating common acute illnesses and injuries; managing high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic problems, and counseling patients on healthy lifestyles, an increasing number of NPs are practicing in acute care settings in hospitals and performing some of the duties once done by medical residents.
Clinical nurse specialists provide care in a range of specialty areas, such as cardiac, oncology, neonatal, and obstetric /gynecological nursing, as well as pediatrics and psychiatric/ mental health. Working in hospitals and other clinical sites, CNSs not only provide acute care and mental helath services, but also develop quality assurance procedures and serve as educators and consultants.
Reaching Toward Consensus presents views on various sides of the issue from top nurse administrators and education directors of hospitals as well as from nursing school deans and faculty. The experts review case examples of nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists who are used in both separate and merged roles, examine current educational models for preparing NPs and CNSs, and present guidelines for reforming advanced practice education.
The 71-page monograph is available for $13 (prepaid) from AACN, One Dupont Circle, Suite 530, Washington, D.C. 20036; or call (202) 463-6930.