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Are lecturers keeping up with their PREP?

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VOL: 97, ISSUE: 36, PAGE NO: 36

Ruth Todd, BSc (Nurs), PGCE, RGN, HVCert, RM, is course team leader, postregistration nursing courses, Stoke on Trent College

The purpose of this study was to examine the ways in which nurses in a college of further education perceived the importance of maintaining their nursing qualification and the extent to which they met PREP requirements.

The purpose of this study was to examine the ways in which nurses in a college of further education perceived the importance of maintaining their nursing qualification and the extent to which they met PREP requirements.

The small-scale study involved the distribution of questionnaires to lecturers with a nursing qualification who were teaching in a college of further education. The group was compared with similar lecturers in other colleges and nurses working in clinical settings.

Participation was 87.5% (n=21) of appropriate staff in the study group college, 100% (n=24) in the other colleges and 75% (n=36) among clinical practitioners.

There appears to be no documented research on nurses in colleges of further education. Studies on nurses' knowledge of the UKCC Code of Conduct (Whyte and Gajos, 1996) and their ability to meet PREP requirements (Bagnall and Garbett, 1996) do not address the specific situation of nurses in colleges of further education.

The ENB (1998) investigated the role of the lecturer but its study concentrated on institutions of higher education, namely universities. There was no mention of contact with further education establishments, where most lecturers are not teaching nurses and do not enter the clinical arena. Unless nurses are teaching postregistration nursing courses, their knowledge tends to become focused on subjects such as child care, and health and social work - nursery nursing, GNVQ, BTec, NVQ.

In line with other further education colleges, many teaching posts in the faculty of caring at the college under investigation require a nursing qualification. Educational establishments often do not stipulate continued nursing registration, arguing that the nursing qualification is needed only to signify a certain depth of knowledge.

Results of the study
Participants were asked if they had heard about UKCC documentation and several common terms used in nursing and whether they could define them (Table 1). Overall, clinical nurses were more aware of the terms and felt able to define them, although it is significant that only 27 (75%) could define the Scope of Professional Practice (UKCC, 1992).

When asked how many of the terms applied to the participant, only 19% of the total sample in the study group gave the correct number, compared with 33% at other further education colleges and 60% of clinical practitioners. The researchers found that there was a difference between perceived knowledge of definitions and a nurse's ability to relate them to his or her own practice.

More than 66% of nurses in all groups had attended a study day related to nursing in the previous three years. Their reasons for attending study days included the subject being related to the respondent's present post or qualifications; involving a known subject area; involving an unknown subject area; covering a topic of particular interest; and that the study day was organised by the ENB.

Nursing journals were read weekly or monthly, but the range was limited. Most nurses in the study group (81%) had read a nursing textbook in the previous month compared with 54% of nurses in other further education colleges and 64% of clinical practitioners. Nurses in all groups were unwilling to purchase textbooks, but borrowed them from libraries or friends.

One significant factor that emerged from this question was that 10% of nurses in the study group could not remember when they had last read a nursing textbook. This percentage was mirrored by nurses in other further education colleges (12%) and the clinical group (8%), where the main reason for consulting a textbook was to revise.

Nearly half the nurses (48%) at the study college said they practically updated their nursing skills, compared with 70% at other colleges. Only 69% of clinical practitioners said they did any practical updating, implying that their everyday practice was not seen as a means of updating skills.

In response to a question on whether they had completed a professional nursing profile, more than half the study group said they had not. This compared with 50% for the other colleges and 22% for the clinical nurses (Table 2).

It would be easy to assume that an uncompleted PREP portfolio would be due to nurses working outside the clinical area, but the figures for non-completion by clinical nurses counters this assumption. Responses from all groups to the question on whether certain items, such as study days and reflection, should be included in their personal professional portfolios are shown in Fig 1.

All nurses considered it important to maintain their nursing knowledge and/or skills. When asked to state why this was necessary - it is a statutory requirement for reregistration (UKCC, 2000) - only 33% nurses in the chosen college recognised this fact compared with 54% at other colleges and 28% of clinical practitioners.

The current UKCC Notification of Practice guidance notes state: '... if you are working in any capacity related to your nursing qualification, then you are practising' (UKCC, 1999).

Regulations for reregistration, therefore, apply to nurses teaching in colleges of further education if a nursing qualification was stipulated in the job description. It would appear that PREP requirements are not being addressed fully within colleges of further education. Ignorance of the rules or a heavy workload is not an excuse for non-compliance.

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