Trevor Saunders, Clinical Nurse Educator, Academic Nursing Unit at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
Health care delivery has changed enormously over the course of this century with increasing complexity, rising costs, inequities in access, the increasing burden of chronic illnesses and health professional workforce shortages. Paralleling these changes has been the rapid advancement of cancer science, improved treatment and outcomes, and a growing population of cancer survivors.
In response, specialist and advanced practice nursing roles emerged in North America, Western Europe and Australia. These innovative roles extended and expanded the scope of the clinical practice of nurses and advanced their ability to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.
A framework to guide career choices and development
In 2010, the nursing leadership team at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre launched an Advancing Nursing Practice framework. The framework’s objective was to guide the career choices and development of the nursing workforce at Peter Mac. It defined specialist and advanced practice roles, offering a nursing career model and a rigorous career advancement governance process, all underpinned by an articulated purpose and set of core guiding principles. Its goal was to guide and support nurses at all career stages to advance nursing practice, to meet the needs and improve the experiences of patients and carers at Peter Mac.
Ten years on, our nurse leaders conducted a reassessment of the framework, in recognition and response to unrelenting health professional workforce shortages and diminishing numbers of senior and advanced practice cancer nurses. The need for a new and different model that guides the career advancement of a more diverse, non-specialist workforce was apparent and, we recognised, essential to attract, retain and reward our nurses.
Evolving to a professional practice model
With a fresh perspective on what we needed from our framework, we agreed that at its core, the intent of our revised model should be enabling all of our nurses to work to the full scope of their practice. Our aim became to deliver a model to support our nursing workforce to advance to their full capacity to positively contribute to improved patient care and outcomes.
Following a review of the literature, we opted to frame our career advancement model as a professional practice model, an approach that has been used effectively by organisations in Australia and internationally to define nursing values, and the structures and processes that support nursing workforces. Importantly, enabling nurses to practise according to the values and motivations that drew them to the profession is an influential factor in the recruitment, job satisfaction and retention of a strong nursing workforce and a key element of this type of model.
“enabling nurses to practise according to the values and motivations that drew them to the profession is an influential factor in the recruitment, job satisfaction and retention of a strong nursing workforce...”
The values underpinning nursing care at Peter Mac
The Peter Mac Nursing Professional Practice Model sets out the values underpinning nursing care at Peter Mac, the professional practice expectations of our nurses and our commitment to career advancement. Four distinct and observable levels of performance, from novice to expert, in the domains of patient care, leadership, education and research are described, providing a roadmap for career advancement.
The expectations of role performance in each of the four key domains of practice and at each level of nursing practice are described, with the intent that this clarity will enable our workforce to see where they ‘fit’, where they might go and what they need to achieve that. Embedded in our model, professional practice and career advancement frameworks illustrate pathways that inform, support and guide nurses to progress their careers from novice to expert at Peter Mac.
Attracting and retaining an expert, diverse, and highly committed nursing workforce that is supported to deliver the highest quality clinical care, leadership, education and research is a key value of nursing at Peter Mac. Work continues, although curtailed by the impact of the pandemic on building the supporting resources and processes required to press our Nursing Professional Practice Model into action. Our hope is to generate and share new knowledge that will have a transformative effect on the cancer nursing workforce both locally and more broadly.
For more information about The Peter Mac Nursing Professional Practice Model, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trevor will speak on Building a career advancement framework for cancer nurses in a concurrent stream at the forthcoming Cancer Nurses Society of Australia 24th Annual Congress in June.