Aim: To identify and follow-up on the transition towards differentiated nursing practice among bachelor trained and vocationally trained nurses in Dutch hospitals. Design: A multiphase general qualitative interview study. Methods: Fifty semi-structured interviews with project managers in charge of introducing differentiated nursing practice to their hospital were conducted. Purposive sampling was used, and data were collected in 2017, 2019 and 2020. A meta-analysis was conducted after independent primary thematic analysis of each data collection. Results: The introduction of differentiated nursing practice to Dutch hospitals was perceived as uncertain and ambiguous. Three themes were identified during the transition towards differentiated nursing practice: (1) call to action; (2) sitting and waiting; and (3) new beginnings and open ends. The change to differentiated nursing practice is not straightforward and these findings highlight the emerging awareness among project managers of the nature and complexity of the transition. During the study period, professionalization of the nursing profession was recognized as fundamental in hospital organizations. Conclusion: Nursing cannot be separated from differentiated nursing practice. Visible leadership is important at all organizational levels and nurses’ opinions must be considered as nurses are essential to such changes in healthcare. Impact: Differentiated nursing practice based on nursing education allows nurses to make the best use of their experience, skills and competencies, and could promote the provision of effective and high-quality patient care. However, in many cases, a nurse's practice role is based on their nursing licensure instead of their educational background. The change to differentiated nursing practice in hospitals is not straightforward and the nature and complexity of the transition needs to be acknowledged. Nurses have an important role in healthcare transformation and need to be active in developing and formulating rather than just implementing the changes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports (project number 1532566‐190809‐MEVA).
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Advanced Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.