A post-graduate course to fast-track “elite” nurses into ward management roles has been created by a partnership of trusts and universities in London.
A group of 15 candidates will be selected for the four-year course, which is due to begin in September.
The scheme, believed to be the first of its kind in the NHS in England, aims to have graduates ready to go straight to a ward sister post. Only nurses with a first-class degree who graduate during the current academic year will be considered as candidates.
It is being set up by the academic health science centre UCL Partners, which comprises more than 30 NHS organisations and education bodies.
Claire Johnston, director of nursing and performance at Camden and Islington Mental Health Foundation Trust, which is one of the participating trusts, told Nursing Times the 15 nurses selected for the first year of the course would be an “elite”.
“We are going for the best and are unashamed about that,” she said. “The programme is about setting the bar uncompromisingly high.”
Students will cover 150 competencies over the four years, more than three a month.
The course also involves six-month rotations through primary care, mental health, general and specialist hospital settings. Each student will be individually mentored by a director of nursing.
Robyn Hudson, director of strategic development at UCLP, said: “Candidates will need to be very ambitious, bright and have high emotional intelligence. They will be passionate and reflect the kind and caring nursing profession that patients and the public need.”
She added that a “driver” for setting up the course was the high vacancy rate for ward sister and charge nurse roles among the partnership’s trusts.
“This is not unique to us but there is a significant vacancy,” she said. “The perception is you have to do all the nasty parts of management and all the responsibility is on you. But equally, when they [sisters] are fabulous they can make the ward a completely different place for patient outcomes.”
Ms Johnston added that the programme would give graduates a system-wide view of the NHS.
She said: “One of the aspirations we have is to create a cohort of nurses that have learnt together over different trusts and care pathways.”