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talked about …. so subconsciously probably every minute of the day you are making decisions all the time …. hugely varied every single day every single hour and people of course outside our roles don’t understand that’s what happens … so I think the varied part of that says probably something quite different is it from the adaptability in a way … so you’ve got the varied role and being totally adaptable for every single part of that role that you’re doing all the time.

Living in “three separate dimensions” was how a third participant described the varied and adaptable nature of the role. The three separate dimensions were; having to problem solve past issues such as incident forms or patient complaints, present concerns of family members of very sick patients, and address future issues like nursing staff roster deficits. The presentation of these dimensions led to a fourth participant recalling an analogy she had heard from a colleague where the CNL had been likened to a signal box at a train station:

I remember quite a number of years ago a colleague of mine who was also in a Clinical Nurse Leader role in …. She said more or less the same thing [as the dimensions] and I have always remembered that she felt like she was a signal box at a train station and all the signals came into her. She had to process them and make decisions around the signals and then send out other signals and responses …it’s always stuck in my head ….You have to analyse the information and then make a decision and a lot of it is based on [your] experience being in the role. If something like this has happened before how are you going to deal with it? ….You try and come up with the best way to deal with the situation so that’s how I see the varied and adaptability issue as well.

Gender, in comparison with the other two themes, received scant attention or interest except to agree that the participants had heard that some male Clinical Nurse Leaders used the appointment and time in the role as a “stepping stone” for future promotion.

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