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All-graduate nursing debate hots up as minister accuses detractors of sexism


Health minister Ann Keen has accused media commentators of sexism following yesterday’s coverage about nursing becoming a all-graduate profession.

Ms Keen launched a strongly worded attack on commentators who said nurses did not need degrees and should instead focus on “caring”, saying she believed the comments were motivated by sexism.

Speaking to the Chief Nursing Office summit in Newcastle yesterday she said: “I have really had enough of this. When do you stop? Do we need to go to school? Do not let them get away with patronising us.”

She told Nursing Times the perception would not be the same if nurses were not mainly female. She said: “This is a personal view. We are predominantly a female profession and I wonder about the status of nursing had it been all men. It is about ‘women’s work’.”

Nursing academics also added their weight to support for the move to all-graduate entry.

Council of Deans of Health chair Sue Bernhauser said: “We have strongly supported proposals for all nurses to be educated to degree level.

“Preparation at graduate level will be essential for new professionals to meet the future requirements and expectations in relation to the complexity and intensity of their roles, together with the need to extend and expand roles to reflect changes in patterns of healthcare delivery. Ultimately this move will help to continue and secure a dynamic and progressive workforce and a high quality of care for service users,” she added.

Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, head of the Florence Nightingale school of nursing and midwifery at King’s College London, said: “Research demonstrates that better educated nurses deliver higher quality care than less well prepared nurses. 

“We need to raise our game if we are to raise standards of care. Education is the only way to do this.”


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Readers' comments (21)

  • The move to make nursing an all-graduate profession is all about ego and nothing to do with service delivery.

    Having just spent the last 3 years doing my nurse training I can honestly say that I learnt very little from the academic modules. The nursing academics are so far removed from the realities of actual nursing that at times I honestly wondered if what I was being taught had come from people with any experience at all within a healthcare setting. Of course nursing academics are supporting the proposal to move to an all-degree level of nursing, they are attempting to validate and protect their careers.

    Everything of value I learnt from observing and listening to nurses and HCA's on clinical placement who had been doing the job for years and knew how to teach effective nursing skills that are of actual value when I start working as a nurse.

    Nursing is primarily about communication. A nurse needs to know how to speak and listen to a person who is confused, frightened, angry, frustrated, elated, depressed and so on. The nurse needs to know how to adapt to given situations and when best to use a gentle approach or an assertive approach in order to best address a patients needs.

    Nursing academics will teach you about 'unconditional positive regard', a lovely concept but completely meaningless. You are either going to like a patient or not, thats human nature, whether you should be professional or abusive towards that patient as a person placed in a position to care for that individual is all about common sense and i'd rather not spend years and countless sums of money proving that im not a complete moron.

    The only difference between nurses who have a diploma and nurses that have a degree is their personality and willingness to do the job. A 'better' qualification does not make a better nurse.

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