Could care more

August 4, 2011

Roger Watson is to be applauded for his opinion article on nurse preparation ("We need the IV leaguers", 28 July). The apparent incompatibility of "caring" with higher education is a tired cliche that the profession should have abandoned years ago.

What both universities and their colleagues in practice have been less than successful in achieving is helping students to integrate essential theory with practice (and fundamental nursing care has increasingly become the preserve of healthcare assistants rather than qualified nurses).

There are many reasons for this, including the fact that many teachers of nursing now have limited clinical experience and expert practice is being diluted in clinical areas. Some nurses who qualify (often with good degrees) probably should not, and the vicissitudes of qualified practice make quality mentoring and supervision difficult. Too much is often expected too soon of newly qualified nurses.

Students and newly qualified nurses who try to bring an element of evidence-based practice to their work often meet a brick wall of tradition and an unwillingness of those in practice to be challenged and to reflect on their work. It may be anecdotal, but I am depressed about how rarely patients and clients report positively on their experience of "care", and some stories (especially from inpatients) are truly shocking. I wonder why some nurses ever wanted to train - or have they been socialised and brutalised by the system?

Anthony Ingleton, Sheffield

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