We would like to respectfully disagree with comments made by Ann Bradshaw in “To degree or not to degree: that is NOT the question for UK nursing”.
Earlier this year, the Nursing and Midwifery Council launched new education standards for nurses and for those who teach them. In her article, Bradshaw questions whether these standards include enough prescriptive detail to ensure that nurses have the skills and knowledge that they need when they qualify, and suggests that no degree can instil kindness, care and compassion.
We certainly agree with Bradshaw that graduate nurse training should include a high level of science (both life and social sciences) and medical knowledge, as well as fundamental skills around evidence-based, person-centred patient assessment and diagnosis and practical and procedural skills. All these are central to our new standards, while kindness, care and compassion remain the cornerstone of what it means to be a nurse. We have captured these requirements in outcome-based standards that clearly set out what a newly qualified nurse should know and be able to do.
So how do we ensure consistency? It is true that we do not specify the precise requirements of nurse training programmes – instead we set standards for those delivering education and training. These standards and our quality assurance process help us to ensure that outcomes are met – whether in the delivery of training programmes or student supervision and assessment.
Some of the changes that we have made are based on the understanding that those delivering the education and training are best placed to decide what works for their students. It is right that those delivering training have the flexibility to harness new ways of working and embrace new technologies. We believe that anything other than this is impractical in the delivery of modern healthcare training – and this approach mirrors that of other regulators.
We developed these standards collaboratively and we listened to the views of thousands of people, including nurses, students, educators and, vitally, patients and the public. They have been fully endorsed by all four of the UK’s Chief Nursing Officers. And we’re confident that the standards will enable nurses to deliver the very best care in the years to come.
Director of education and standards
Nursing and Midwifery Council