This meeting examined what professional development and support should be afforded the role of the CNL. One of the participants proposed initial gauging of previous experience to inform future professional development. This assessment would be in the form of a needs analysis or questionnaire sent to either the new or existing CNLs. There was general agreement that the CNL should be given information on organisational processes, for example, human resource training for performance management of staff. The orientation to the role, the participants suggested, should include both the use of and terminology attached to information technology. The use of spreadsheets, rostering software and the systems that held patient-related information, for example diagnostics or inpatient tracking, were raised. An appointed or chosen mentor was suggested, particularly in the orientation phase.
The role of feedback, not only at initial induction into the role but also ongoing, was important for the CNL. One participant commented: “you don’t do [receive feedback] unless you do something wrong” and then went on further to say: I didn’t know what I was doing was OK until …. walked in and said you know you’re doing an OK job … And that was all …. just giving you the bit of encouragement that you’re doing alright and I suppose there should be something that …. structure something that’s official that there’s a process [for feedback]
This led the group to talk about the essential skills for the role (as one participant said “people skills …. it’s the nature of our work”) and the timing of the education, both for the new clinical nurse leader and those already in the role. The yearly performance appraisal was not deemed sufficient as a basis for a professional development model for the CNL. As one participant summarised: “I think you always need it, you always need that
support”. Two further participants agreed: one explained “because we are working in a changing environment that evolves all the time so there’s always something”. The frequency of the professional development was significant with general agreement that it needed to be regular both at commencement and once the CNL was established. A