Reflections on a 'virtual' practice development unit: changing practice through identity development
Fielding, C, Rooke, D, Graham, IW & Keen, S 2007, 'Reflections on a 'virtual' practice development unit: changing practice through identity development', Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol. 17. no. 10, pp. 1312-1319.
The publisher's version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.02043.x
Aims. This paper draws together the personal thoughts and critical reflections of key people involved in the establishment of a 'virtual' practice development unit of clinical nurse specialists in the south of England. Background. This practice development unit is 'virtual' in that it is not constrained by physical or specialty boundaries. It became the first group of Trust-wide clinical nurse specialists to be accredited in the UK as a practice development unit in 2004. Design and methods. The local university was asked to facilitate the accreditation process via 11 two-hour audio-recorded learning sessions. Critical reflections from practice development unit members, leaders and university staff were written 12 months after successful accreditation, and the framework of their content analysed. Findings and discussion. Practice development was seen as a way for the clinical nurse specialists to realize their potential for improving patient care by transforming care practice in a collaborative, interprofessional and evolutionary manner. The practice development unit provided a means for these nurses to analyse their role and function within the Trust. Roberts' identity development model for nursing serves as a useful theoretical underpinning for the reflections contained in this paper. Conclusions. These narratives provide another example of nurses making the effort to shape and contribute to patient care through organizational redesign. This group of nurses began to realize that the structure of the practice development unit process provided them with the means to analyse their role and function within the organization and, as they reflected on this structure, their behaviour began to change. Relevance to clinical practice. Evidence from these reflections supports the view that practice development unit participants have secured a positive and professional identity and are, therefore, better able to improve the patient experience.