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Credentialling of Australian critical care nurses : a dialectical study
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posted on 08.02.2017by Haralambous, Kathryn Ann
Aims: This research project endeavoured to explore and debate the purpose of
credentialling Australian critical care nurses; a process created and instituted by the
Australian College of Critical Care Nurses between 1996 and 1998. This research
project explored the impetus for the development of credentialling and its impact on
critical care nursing theory, practice and education.
Methodology: The student researcher employed a qualitative research framework
utilising dialectical approaches and Critical Social Theory to explore the phenomenon of
credentialling. In-depth interviews were conducted by telephone with two nurses
credentialled by the Australian College of Critical Care Nursing and with two
credentialling committee members of the Australian College of Critical Care Nursing.
Findings: The student researcher found that credentialling critical care nurses resulted in
highlighting the need for positive changes to theory, practice and education. Positive
changes created by credentialling included increasing the perceived value of specialist
nursing care by the gaining of rewards and incentives through personal and professional
recognition, creating a clinical career path and, describing what nurses do in practice,
thus confirming their role and scope of practice in writing. Positive changes were seen
to contribute to increased professionalism. Negative outcomes of credentialling
explored by participants included changes in workplace flexibility and the introduction
of additional nursing regulation.
Discussion: Discussion of the findings explored and examined many social conditions
including patriarchy and empirics which support the ideology evident in the findings.
The ideologies that were explored in the discussion of the findings related to altruism,
professionalism and career structures.
Conclusion: Credentialling of Australian critical care nurses serves many purposes,
some of which are controversial. This research project has demonstrated that one of the
primary purposes of any credentialling process is to enhance the process of
professionalism and the gaining of professional status. The implications for critical care
nursing theory practice and education are currently unknown due to the small number of
critical care nurses credentialled to date.