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New Zealand has approximately 45,000 nurses; 40,442 of them are Registered Nurses and just over half of all nurses work in DHBs (Clark, 2006).

I am one of these Registered Nurses. I am presently employed as a Nurse Manager responsible for Education and Professional Development in the DHB where the research was carried out. It was hoped that findings from this study around the role of CNL would support and inform any further development of this pivotal role during ongoing role reforms. The predicted benefits were to be the production of useful outcomes both professionally and to the organisation where the role was carried out. It was hoped that the project would result in the creation of new ways to support the nursing workforce to be more effective within the context of where they practiced. I advertised for six to 10 participants in clinical leadership positions to join me in examining the role of the CNL. Eight of us would research this senior nursing role within the nursing structure of a DHB setting. In addition, it was hoped that the seven CNLs as co-researchers would gain something useful from the research process and the production of knowledge.

I sought to research with this group of CNLs to create opportunities to solve problems for themselves and for other CNLs. Early, in the preparatory phase, when reading one of the works of Yoland Wadsworth (2001), I discovered the opening words quoted at the beginning of this chapter. Wadworth’s inclusion captures beautifully what I wanted to achieve with this research. The remainder of this first chapter includes the purpose and reasoning behind the research, the situational context (the DHB) and its connection to the role of CNL. The practice and professional domains in which the CNL function within are also described. The chapter concludes with an overview of each chapter of the thesis.


Purpose and Rationale

There were two questions that underpinned this research project: how can the evolution of the role of CNL be further informed and how can the support of the role be further improved? These led to subsequent questions: what is the role of the CNL presently, and who should define this? Malterud (2001) states: “a researcher’s background and position will affect what they choose to investigate, the angle of investigation, the methods judged


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