Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 26(4) December 2013 : 60-75.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2013.23629
Nursing Research

Knowledge Gaps Regarding APN Roles: What Hospital Decision-Makers Tell Us

Nancy Carter, Maureen Dobbins, Sandra Ireland, Heather Hoxby, Gladys Peachey and Alba DiCenso


The implementation of advanced practice nursing (APN) roles can yield improvements in patient and health system outcomes, and supportive leadership is integral in facilitating the implementation of such roles. The purpose of this study was to explore the awareness and understanding of APN roles among hospital decision-makers, and to learn about the information they require and the ways in which they prefer to receive that information. Fifteen administrators and leaders from two multi-site acute care organizations were interviewed. Their practical knowledge of APN roles was based on experience developing the roles or working with APNs in hospital programs. The most common sources of APN information were internal contacts (i.e., APNs) and documents from nursing organizations. Participants reported difficulty distinguishing between the roles of nurse practitioners (NPs) and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), and identified knowledge regarding CNS roles as their greatest need. They required specific information regarding the "value-added" benefits offered by an APN role. Strategies to address the knowledge gaps of healthcare leaders are urgently needed in order to support the implementation of new APN roles and to sustain existing ones.



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