Key aspects of the context of this research were the DHB where the CNLs were employed and the position of nursing and nursing leadership within New Zealand. The DHB is a crown agent charged with responding and giving effect to health related policy from the New Zealand government. The focus of each DHB is to utilise their allocated resource to improve, advance and safeguard the health of their population (New Zealand Health and Disability Act, 2000). The Clinical Nurse Leader functions within one specific clinical setting and is some management layers away from the board that governs the District Health Board function. The CNLs are responsible for leading and managing nursing teams, for the maintenance of clinical standards in their area, and for giving effect to how nurses deliver on and comply with DHB policy. They are the conduit for the patient-related information, the key person that patient, family members, managers and the multidisciplinary team approach or contact. Essentially, when they are there they are expected to know what is going on in their area for their patients and, if they do not possess such details, know where the details can be obtained. When they are not there they are accountable for what goes on in their absence. Although the DHB where the research was carried out employs approximately 5,000 people, the CNL is a recognisable face of the organisation. The public knows that where there are patients, there will be someone, usually a nurse who is in charge whether it be a ward, clinic or mobile team. The function of the CNL role is typically described within the organisation position description and Chapter One described one such example. This example described the CNL as having 10 areas which they were accountable for, with 69 performance measures which their performance is evaluated against. The selection process for appointment into the role, subsequent orientation plus ongoing professional development of each CNL varied in length and content across the DHB.
The professional and situational context which the CNLs practice within has altered significantly over the past 30 years. Since 2001 all nursing programmes preparing for Registered Nurse status have been delivered by tertiary education providers with the newly graduating nurse having a degree (Keith & Peat Marwick, 2001). The expectations of the skill set of the registered nurse and of the CNL have also changed. Increasingly there is a requirement for those in senior positions to possess sound business and financial planning