Bridging the Gap in Care for Children Through the Clinical Nurse Leader

Erin L. O'Grady, Brigit VanGraafeiland


Pediatr Nurs. 2012;38(3):155-158, 167. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Care coordination has been identified as a gap in the nursing care of children and families who experience an encounter within the health care system. The educational preparation of the clinical nurse leader (CNL) enables the CNL to address many gaps found in health care. Current evidence suggests various gaps in care, as reported by patients, families, nurses, and other health care providers. Identified gaps in care include problems with communication, coordination, education, research, advocacy, psychological and social support, and the needs of siblings. The CNL may improve quality of care for children through efficient care coordination by acting as a liaison and advocate between the patient, family, and health care team to bridge gaps in the current practices of care.


Educational preparation enables the clinical nurse leader (CNL) to address some recent challenges in health care, such as increasing diversity, biomedical advancements, and growing interdisciplinary treatments. CNLs may be able to provide master's level evidencebased care at the bedside while addressing current gaps in care through lateral integration of services. The CNL's unique role as a team manager who provides oversight for the care offered by many disciplines will hopefully improve the overall continuity of care for patients. The role of the CNL was implemented to create new practice models of educating professionals at the master's level in a client-centered atmosphere and to retain master's prepared nurses at the clinical bedside (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2007).

The CNL role addresses the ongoing need for nurse leaders at the bedside who are prepared to serve as patient advocates and translators of evidence-based practice across a variety of settings to provide continuity of care for patients. By providing continuity of care, quality may be improved, and previous gaps in nursing care may be reduced. The nursing care of children and families is just one example in which the CNL role can be used to provide continuity of care and may be implemented as a liaison role between the patient, the patient's family, and the entire health care team. Coordination, supervision, and delegation are important tasks in the care of these patients and their families, and the CNL is prepared to complete these tasks to improve quality of care.


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