In most European countries, nurses have the possibility of studying for a master's degree in nursing. In Slovenia, this has only been an option since 2007.
The 2nd cycle study program Advanced Nursing Care (master’s degree/2y) builds on the 1st cycle higher professional study program Nursing Care and is designed in accordance with the Bologna guidelines. The program enables students to deepen and enhance the competences and skills they have already acquired and equips them to seek out new sources of knowledge in professional and scientific fields. The general objective of the 2nd cycle study program Advanced Nursing Care (master’s degree/2y) is to promote, develop and implement evidence-based nursing practice. During the course of the studies, students develop the ability to respond appropriately to the complex and changing needs in the treatment of healthy and sick populations and to acquire the competences necessary to deal with complex challenges in their chosen field of study.
The revised 2nd cycle study program Advanced Nursing (master’s degree/2y) is designed in accordance with the international Guidelines on advanced nursing practice (ICN, 2020) and Clinical nurse specialist competencies (CNS): a common pipeline of competencies for the common training framework of each specialty (ESNO, 2015).
Advanced nursing care education focuses on health problems at the primary level, while at the secondary and tertiary levels, clinical specialisations are increasingly gaining ground for independent clinical work. A completed professional master's degree in advanced nursing care is the minimum requirement for independent work at any of the three levels of health care.
The Master of Advanced Nursing Care is trained to take a holistic approach to the patient, which includes not only making a diagnosis but also taking responsibility for the treatment of acute and chronic medical conditions, and in some countries even prescribing medication. It is of critical importance that the education includes guided clinical training in a clinical setting. Minimum required hours of training are also prescribed. Countries with an established practice in this area require a minimum of 500 hours of the described clinical training ( ESNO, 2015; Guidelines, 2019).
Graduates act independently, take responsibility for the health of those they treat and work collaboratively with other health professionals while taking full responsibility for their work. Competencies vary according to the level of development of the health system in the country. The broadest range of competencies includes advanced holistic health status assessment, planning diagnostic tests, diagnosing medical conditions, prescribing nationally agreed therapies, monitoring and evaluating the performed activities, improving medical treatment, etc. They have the authority to refer and admit a patient. The treatment they provide is evidence-based, they monitor their own work and engage in research in their clinical area of practice. They work independently in an interdisciplinary team, which facilitates consultation and collaborative work between advanced nursing masters and clinical medical specialists in their field.