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'Is three years long enough to prepare our nurses for practice?'

  • Comments (36)

When I was a student there were very few options for dressing a wound; eusol and paraffin, paraffin gauze, hydrogen peroxide or a dry dressing.

And guess what? Wounds rarely healed. The field of tissue viability has developed significantly over the last 20 years and now wound management requires considerable skills including detailed assessment and product selection.

This growth in nursing knowledge is not confined to tissue viability and the challenge is to squeeze more and more into the nurse curriculum so that newly registered staff will be able to hit the ground running.

Happy Newly Qualified Nurses’ Week!

You can read our FREE content on how to manage the transition from student to qualified nurse here

I remember being petrified on my first day as a staff nurse; a different uniform brings an expectation that you know what you are doing, have all the answers and are able to make decisions. You have passed your exams so you must be a competent practitioner.

But registration is just the beginning of the journey to becoming a nurse.

New staff nurses must be nurtured so they not only consolidate their practical skills but are able to live up to the guiding principles and ideals that brought them into the profession in the first place. Failure to give this support leads to frustration, disillusionment and ultimately loss of good nurses from the profession.

Perhaps nurse training just isn’t long enough. Extending it to four years to include a 12-month postgraduate preregistration experience would enable nurses to consolidate their theoretical and practical skills and begin the transition from novice to expert in a protected environment.

This would follow the pattern set by other professional groups. Pharmacy is now a five-year course with a one-year postgrad prereg course where pharmacy graduates gain essential practical experience.

Why can’t nursing replicate this model?

  • Comments (36)

Readers' comments (36)

  • Anonymous

    They would just get used in the ward setting whether they were registered or pre-registered. What would they be paid? Band 4 perhaps.

    It's a wonder anyone wants to train at all these days, given that we are being shafted from all angles; by the press over our alleged failings, by the government over our pensions, by a pay freeze that is likely to go beyond the 2 years originally stated, by major cuts in funding, staff and services and my the very flawed health bill that will destroy the NHS.

    All very negative when you look at it; depressing out look for nurses at any stage in their career.

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  • Anonymous

    Sorry about the typo; it was meant to read, 'and by the very flawed health bill that will destroy the NHS.'

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  • Little One

    Dearie me, please don't suggest making our course even longer. It's hard enough as it is. Educationally, emotionally, psychologically and financially. We have preceptorship courses to aide in the transition from student to staff nurse, maybe these should be of a mandatory length?

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  • I think 3 years is long enough, but it depends on the quality and content of the training. Having discussed this with student nurses I'm not sure they are getting all they need. Looking back on my 3 years of training I can honestly say I felt ready to cope with the pressures of the job by the end of it.

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  • Anonymous

    It is a nice idea but is it affordable.

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  • Anonymous

    If you trained for 4 years as some countries do, you still do not learn until you qualify. Once you are really left in charge of your patients without hiding behind your mentor then you learn.
    On my first hight shift when I was left in charge after the late shift went home I wanted to cry but I got through, my patients survived, and my confidence grew. I have not met a newly qualified nurse yet that isn't apprehensive about their new status.
    As far as extending the training time well you never stop learning do you?

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 27-Mar-2012 8:21 am
    In another country where I worked a group of newly qualified nurses came in and more or less took over the management of my ward from day one. there were only two of us left from the previous team which had functioned extremely well delivering high quality care in a relaxed a friendly atmosphere which many of our patients and doctors acknowledged with great satisfaction, but got up the backs of our management! My colleague and I were forced into the office despite having our own case loads as the new nurses were obviously unable to answer queries on the phone or for anyone who came onto the ward. We also got lumbered with all the management/administration of the daily running of the ward. but as far as nursing care was concerned they were fresh out of school and knew it all and all the latest methods and would not be helped or told anything at all as they considered us totally old hat and not to be listened to! I quickly gave up offering any help or suggestions where it was apparently not wanted or needed and just left them to it. but then if there was an emergency or they came across a situation with which they were unable to cope they would come running for help. when we did manage to get out of the office, where the phone was constantly ringing and there was always something that needed our immediate attention, to actually tend to our patients they would watch us and tell us that 'it is not done that way anymore' in front of the patient, and that management has said you have to do it this way now! This often happened when coming back from one or two days off, when we told that a procedure had changed leaving us feeling fairly useless with our old fashioned methods which had previously served our patients well.

    I was all for them teaching us newer and up to date methods but it was the condescending way that it was said and done that was disagreeable. They were supported by management and we got no support in this awkward transition at all. We were eventually made to feel we were in the way. The only problem was management were non-clinicians and had probably never seen a patient below the sheets and some of their directives were totally unrealistic, non-evidence based, unsafe or did not fit in with the current organisation of the ward. These new nurses also took over the mentorship of the new students (and two of them took over the off duty planning of which they had little understanding but managed to work it to their advantage and shut themselves away in a room for a couple of hours periodically even when we were short handed on the ward) and we were more or less left to be office workers under their supervision. My colleague left but i stuck it out, as it was difficult for foreigners to change to another post, until I was needed back home in the UK due to changes in my family circumstances.

    It was a sad ending to my previously enjoyable and successful career but a taste of malfunctioning teamwork - obviously the storming phase of the cycle.

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  • Anonymous

    3 years should be long enough, it was for many years. I don't need to go on about the 'old style training', it's all been discussed before. Why anyone would want to train for 4 years to go into nursing is baffling, I'd have thought it more sensible to reduce the length of training and entry requirements to bring back the SEN role but that's been discussed before too.

    Is there any evidence that hands-on nursing care or the reputation of nursing have improved since the introduction of diploma/degree courses.

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  • Anonymous

    Most student nurses are keen to get out and start earning as many of them have had to support themselves with HCA work on days off to survive, pay their rent etc. 3 years is enough, although what they have to look forward to now is anyone's guess. I hope I don't get ill and need a hospital when I get old. They will probably be staffed with HCA's by then, who will also do the drugs, manage the wards etc, some of which will be band 4, with band 2's doing the basic care, and band 3's the technical care. Band 4's will be in charge!! Where will the registered nurses be? god only knows!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • "lets go round again".....inwardly sigh! this used to happen in those oh so "dark ages" us older nurses keep being accused of reminiscening on,with so called rose tinted glasses.I look back in shock at some of the things we used to do and am glad we have moved on from that,BUT some things did work really well and looking after the newly qualified was one of them.When we qualified we were ALL given jobs in our school of nursing hospital.We were offered mainly 6months in general medicine then general surgery to get the feel of our new roles.Then we could choose what we wanted to do,stay put or begin our roles in more specialised fields.There was no obligation to stay after qualifying,it wasn't an extension of our "training" but nobody was without a job.The general experience helped build foundations following training.
    I do think 3 years is enough it's impossible to "cram" everything in,because care initiatives and best practise change all the time,this you learn as you go through your career as a qualified nurse,thats part of the job.

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