New nurses may get L plates after review

November 20, 1998

The first major review of nursing and midwifery education since it moved into higher education a decade ago could result in newly-qualified nurses being issued with notional L plates.

The United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting's education commission, established in June to review and prepare a way forward for pre-registration nurse and midwifery education, met this week to hear initial results of its consultation.

Among the issues raised were the readiness of newly-qualified nurses to practise independently, the balance between academic theory and practice in curricula, the appropriateness of training specialist nurses to work in one area of care only, and a national curriculum.

Initial findings were based on 24 university seminars attended by nurses, student nurses and nurse educators. More than 30,000 questionnaires have also been returned by nurses.

The review comes a decade after the introduction of Project 2000 diploma courses, and the move from training nurses on wards into universities. The vast majority of student nurses now follow three-year Project 2000 courses, the remaining 13 per cent doing three or four-year nursing degrees. All are based in higher education, with considerable time spent in hospitals.

The UKCC is putting Pounds 500,000 into the review but emphasised the commission should not be seen as a criticism of Project 2000. The philosophy behind Project 2000, it says, still holds good. Rather the questions are whether it has been put into practice and whether the programme has deviated from its original intention.

Stuart Skyte, head of communications, said the initial consultation showed considerable support for some form of consolidation period after qualification.

"From day one after qualifying, nurses and midwives practise on the wards," he said. "There is a quite strong view that a pre-registration period is needed, for newly-qualified nurses and midwives to have the notion of L plates."

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