Learnt and perceived professional roles of a new type of nurse specialized in Gerontology and Geriatrics, a qualitative study

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To gain insight into a new type of nurse specialized in gerontology and geriatrics, how they find meaning in the care of older persons and how this relates to the seven professional roles derived from the CanMEDS theoretical framework.


To promote the quality of care for older persons in the Netherlands, one of the measures taken is the training and deployment of Registered Nurses specialized in Gerontology and Geriatrics. We focus on their professional roles in this study, to gain insight into the extent to which they fulfil their professional standards.


A qualitative study, consisting of seven focus group interviews.


The study population included 67 Registered Nurses. Data were collected between October 2011–May 2013.


Nurses work in all seven CanMEDS roles, but not with all competences associated with these seven roles. The more distant the role is from patient activities, the less frequently competences such as social networks; design; research; innovation of care; legal, financial and organizational frameworks; professional ethics and professional innovation are mentioned.


Nurses engage in activities consistent with nursing care for older people; however, despite their training, they are mainly focused on direct-patient care.


Their limited awareness of the complete range of professional competences risks the stagnation of their development in professional roles such as health advocate, scholar and professional, which will not lead to an improvement in the care for older persons.

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