Divisional review of the nurse specialist role

Nurs Stand. 2019 Apr 26;34(5):31-34. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11080.


Nurse specialists have been described as providing an optimal return on investment for income generation, patient safety, cost savings, and improvements in patient care and experience. However, there is often a lack of understanding of the nurse specialist role and how such nurses support improved patient outcomes. To assess the effect of the nurse specialist in a division of one large NHS trust, a review of the nurse specialist role was undertaken within eight specialties. This review profiled nurse specialists' roles in terms of their activity, income generation and quality, with the aim of producing specialist job plans to accurately reflect their roles. Nurse specialists were provided with a job-planning template and face-to-face sessions on how to complete it. The returned job plans were reviewed by a panel consisting of nursing management, lead clinical nurse specialists and representatives from finance. The results were used to generate three generic nurse specialist job plans that recognised the core elements of the role. The division intends to undertake a further review of nurse specialists, which aims to explore the role in further detail, including identifying their development needs. Having examined the effects of the nurse specialist role, the division needs to ensure that nurse specialists are resourced to reach their full potential.

Keywords: nursing roles; professional development; professional issues; role development; specialist nurses; workforce; workforce planning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost Savings
  • Health Workforce
  • Humans
  • Nurse Clinicians / organization & administration
  • Nurse Specialists / economics
  • Nurse Specialists / organization & administration*
  • Nurse Specialists / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Patient Safety
  • United Kingdom