Historically, much of the debate about educational preparation for advanced practice was really about whether nurse practitioners were advanced practice nurses. When you take nurse practitioners out of the equation, in the UK there is little doubt that advanced practitioners should be educated to Master's level (Elcock 1996; Wright, 1997; Manley, 1997), a view which is now supported by the NMC (2005). There is a consensus that the key components of the role would be expert practitioner, educator, researcher and consultant (Elcock, 1996). This is because advanced practitioners are involved in the breaking down of existing professional barriers and redefining practice parameters and contributing to health policy. This level of critical thinking and decision-making, and analytical skills, can only be achieved through a Master's level educational preparation (Davies & Hughes, 2002). This is similar to the educational preparation in the USA (Mick & Ackerman, 2000), and in the Nordic countries. In the Nordic countries advanced practice education focuses on nursing research, addressing nursing science issues such as confusion, anxiety, incontinence, sleep and pain, and all of these are addressed from multiple perspectives. There they also believe that preparation for advanced practice should be at Master's level to enable the nurse to synthesise nursing research; their programmes run over three years and prepare practitioners to lead and manage health care, to teach and develop research-based clinical expertise (Lorensen et al., 1998).
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