Sterile debate

November 21, 2013

Vince Cable thinks that nurses having degrees is “just qualification inflation” (“Vince Cable slams ‘qualification inflation’ in ‘standard’ professions”, 13 November). It is unfortunate that he is seemingly unaware of the benefits to patients of nurses being educated to degree level.

The international RN4CAST study of nurses in more than 10 European countries (including England) shows that mortality is approximately 7 per cent lower for every 10 per cent increase in the proportion of nurses with degrees. This backs up work in the US by University of Pennsylvania scholar Linda Aiken, who found that a 10 per cent increase in the number of nurses with a bachelor’s degree was associated with a 5 per cent reduction in the likelihood of patients dying within 30 days of admission.

Given these data, perhaps it is unsurprising that every major UK review of nursing has supported degree-level education as the right preparation for the challenging and complex roles that nurses undertake. We should be proud of our graduate nurses, helping them to apply their skills to lead innovation and improvement in patient care, encouraging them to engage in research and supporting them to challenge poor practice.

The sterile debate about whether nurses need degrees is a distraction from the real challenges. We need to be clear about the risk of downgrading and cutting post-registration training, and work with partners across health and social care to make sure that practice placements provide high-quality learning environments for students. We need to support efforts to build research capacity and develop consistent career pathways to support clinical academics. We also have a role to play in helping health and social care address some of their most difficult problems: moving to more community based delivery, tackling persistent health inequalities and promoting effective integration, to name but a few.

Ieuan Ellis
Council of Deans of Health

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

International Student Support Assistant YORK ST JOHN UNIVERSITY
Senior Lecturer: Architecture (Cultural Content) NORWICH UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS
Head of Department of Physics ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY
Lecturer in University Study Skills UNIVERSITY OF HAFR AL BATIN

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest