Developing a neonatal workforce: role evolution and retention of advanced neonatal nurse practitioners

S L Smith, M A Hall
Archives of Disease in Childhood. Fetal and Neonatal Edition 2003, 88 (5): F426-9

BACKGROUND: Over the past decade more than 120 advanced neonatal nurse practitioners (ANNPs) have graduated from the Southampton based ANNP programme.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the scope of practice and evolving role of ANNPs and to identify factors that may affect future recruitment and retention.

METHOD: An open ended structured questionnaire on clinical role, working arrangements, retention and attrition, continuing education, and professional development was sent to 95 ANNPs.

RESULTS: A response rate of 83% was achieved. There was an attrition rate of 14%, with most ANNPs remaining in their original seconding unit. Factors considered to be important for role satisfaction included a well defined role, working within a team of ANNPs, appropriate remuneration, and evidence of unit support for both role definition and continuing professional development.

CONCLUSIONS: Although ANNPs are expensive to both train and employ, this evidence suggests that there is a good return on the investment in terms of retention to the unit and the specialty. Their role incorporates many features of advanced nursing practice as well as providing "value added" neonatal care by merging traditional medical and nursing roles and crossing professional boundaries. In 2004 the manpower challenges for neonatal units will be even more acute; these data confirm that there are effective options available but they require long term strategic planning and investment.

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