position. The CNLs in this research were co-researchers defining the role and creating solutions for future communities of clinical nurse leaders. This study addressed some of the knowledge gap as identified by Hyrkäs and Dende (2008). They suggested, in their editorial, that a body of work had yet to be completed that encapsulates the essence of the role as well as the setting the clinical leaders of nursing function within and exactly where or how the impact is experienced.
The interviews with the CNLs contained content concerning the role, attributes, skills and knowledge requirements and the experience of being in the role. Cook (2001) found that a CNL’s core set of attributes include respecting and influencing. Respecting is when the CNL is open to others’ perspectives and influencing is the ability to assist others to understand others’ attitudes. While in this research the word respecting was not used, it was assumed in how the CNLs talked of their profile. Being influential, however, was referred to but unlike the perspective of Cook, the focus was on enabling staff as opposed to assisting.
Other researchers highlighted that the role is pivotal in the successful implementation of present and future health care strategies (Clegg, 2001; Doherty, 2003; Drach-Zahavy & Dagan, 2002; Drummond, 2002; Kan, 2002; Williams, 2004). Again, this set of interviews highlighted the pivotal nature of the role as well as the legitimate power and authority that the role carries. This means the CNL needs to have knowledge of all aspects of their respective clinical area. The action research group meetings raised the key place the role occupies being the conduit for patient information for family, multidisciplinary team and management, the responsibility as patient advocate, allocation of newly-admitted patients, budget accountability and rostering of nursing staff. This pivotal place meant that, on occasions, CNLs attend a series of events within a matter of hours. Such events could include assisting at a critical clinical situation like a cardiac arrest, overseeing the documentation necessary to accompany a deceased patient’s transfer from the ward, and attending a complex family meeting concerning another patient may occur. This pivotal presence occurs in a pressured health environment. As Heller et al. (2004) state: