Clinical services have historically embraced the use of nurses to deliver allergy care in a variety of settings reflecting the diverse nature of allergy. Allergy is a medical specialty which focuses on diagnosing and managing patients with a range of allergic conditions including asthma, eczema, food allergy, and rhinitis and drug allergy (Royal College of Physicians (RCP), 2016). There are a variety of nursing roles within Allergy to reflect the increasingly complex area to include diagnosing allergy, interpretation of blood results, desensitising patients to life-threatening allergies such as wasp venom allergy, excluding or proving drug allergy by challenging patients to suspected drugs (RCP, 2016). The work can be children or adult, outpatient or day case. At Band 5 nurses support clinics by providing injections and clinical support, at level 6 and 7 there are various nursing pathway including Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Advanced Practitioner (AP), Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) and Nurse Consultant. Whilst all nurses work within their professional boundaries (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC, 2018) supported by the BSACI allergy nursing competencies, to provide a framework for practitioners to transfer their theoretical knowledge into practical skills. Using Benner’s (1984) assessment criteria the competency ranges from Novice (N) to Expert (E) emphasising the safe recognition and treatment of anaphylaxis within our clinical environment.
At the advanced level, nurses are increasingly extending and expanding their scope of professional practice within allergy to include extra training such as clinical assessment, history taking and physical assessment. They are also leading busy allergy (often Immunology) departments and services providing quality assurance as part of Improving Quality in Allergy Services (IQAS) accreditation scheme. Furthermore, the growing burden of allergy means that there is currently a shortage of full-time allergy specialists and therefore the advanced role will continue to grow within allergy (RCP, 2016), this is reflected in the numbers attending and completing allergy courses at the Allergy Academy ,undertaking MSc in Allergy or MSc in Advanced Practice.
The BSACI supports all nurses working within an allergy, to gain individual knowledge and competency to preform essential skills for the role expected of an allergy nurse.
Benner P (1984) “From Novice to Expert” Menlo-Park: Addison Wesley Publishing Company
BSACI ( 2015) Nursing competences in allergy
NMC Code of Conduct (2018) Code of Conduct : London
Royal College of Physicians RCP (2016) Available at: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/education-practice/advice/specialty-spotlight-allergy ( Accessed 05 03 2020)