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Degrees are 'step in the right direction', says nursing director


A nursing director has defended the move to all-graduate entry nursing, saying it is about “complexity of care rather than elitism”.

Some critics of the move, confirmed by government in November, have said it could restrict entry to the profession and put academic study above more basic skills and compassion.

But Alison Robertson, currently chief nurse at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust and due to take up post as nursing director of St George’s Healthcare Trust in London in January, defended the move.

In a speech at a one-day workforce conference run jointly by Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, she said: “To my mind graduate entry by 2013 is the right step. Scotland and Wales have already done this and so have midwives; we should be there too.”

She added: “It’s not about elitism; it’s about the complexity of care that we are delivering now and will be delivering in the future.”  


Readers' comments (17)

  • A lot of research has been done into degree nurses. The patients of degree nurses at the bedside have higher survival rates. Go to that link and scroll down.


    Today's RN's need critical thinking, reasoning, and analytical skills and all that comes from a university education. The universities certainly teach their nursing students that the nursing assessment is the most important part of the nursing process. i.e. If you don't bathe your own patient you cannot assess them properly and then you will fail to pick up changes in condition and or plan their care properly.

    Not doing basic care yourself means you are working blind. Full stop. Nurses know this.

    Degree nursing students know that basic care is their role but they also know that the hospital bosses will make sure that they are given way more patients than they can handle, every shift, regardless of how many incident forms etc are going in.

    This means that the nurse has to prioritise and delegate to the health care assistants the only thing that care assistants can do among the millions of things that are going on in that ward all at once: basic care.

    Degree level education for nurses is not the problem here. Degree nurses' attitudes are not the problem here.

    Hospital bosses are the problem.

    Another big problem is that we have a society that is so backward that they cannot understand why an RN needs an education nor do they understand why an RN taking care of 20 critical patients at once cannot care for everyone's needs at all times.

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  • I absolutely agree with the previous comment. Health Care is continually changing, expectations increase and nurses are dealing with ever more complex health problems. If nurses are not adequately trained to critically analyse then of course patient care will suffer.

    Some seem to fear a loss of compassion in the delivery of care if students nurses are taught in a classroom but being educated and compassionate are not mutually exclusive attributes. Provided the right people are excepted on to nurse training programs and compassion and care are kept in clear focus then there should not be a problem.

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  • I am a degree holder, my boss is non-degree holder. do you think who will have say on patient care?

    I discuss with him about my nursing care plan. He argue that HE IS THE BOSS.

    I suggest to him changes. He said the change must come from HEAD NURSE.

    I am a degree holder, I am paid as band 5. My colleagues are non-degree holder, they are paid as band 6. My boss is non-degree nursing. He is being paid band 7 and HE IS THE WARD MANAGER.

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  • Some manager can be a pain in the neck! My manager who is also a non-degree holder preventing me for doing the degree course. He refused to give me any study leave even i am keen to be self sponsor. What is their problems???

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  • They have an inferiority complex. They are afraid of being condsidered obsolete even though that is nonsense. Non degree RN's who have been doing their jobs for awhile are excellent because of all the experience they have.

    But the future requires newly trained nurses to have degrees. And an education does not make one less compassionate.

    I think it is funny when people say that degree nurses don't want to be at the bedside.

    The facts of the matter are this:

    Most University educated nurses are newer nurses and therefore most of them are at the bedside, gaining experience.

    Most of the managment / clipboard ( i dont wanna get my hands dirty) types who screw everything up were trained the old fashioned way and are clueless about today's issues.

    They (older traditional trained nurses) have thrown the younger nurses to the sharks with disgustingly poor ratios and poor working environments that leave the ward nurses unable to function.

    Thanks a lot old timers. Real compassionate your old fashioned training was!

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  • Its nice to see so much respect for older experienced nurses being expressed on here.

    Of course your boss may not have a degree but are you seriously suggesting he/she should bow to your superior experience? Or was that superior knowledge?

    So an experience nurse of some 20 years front line work is now what? Worthless?

    Its strange but I see a lot of degree nurses who demonstrate good knowledge of their own limitations and are willing to learn - often stating "they didn't teach me that in uni!"

    Its also a two way process of us learning from them - but as the senior partner the decision rests with the senior nurse for good reason - no one is going to hold a nurse even with a degree responsible over a senior member of staff are they?

    I have 4 years to go and will retire and it cant come soon enough.

    I feel nursing is going to be a vocational practice which only middle class students will apply.

    An awful lot of potentially excellent nurses will be excluded as they will not be able to afford the debt that comes with training. Or have had to leave full time education due to being young carers etc.

    Maybe I am mistaken, will lots of opportunities be available for young people having to work full time to support their families be able to afford to go into nursing?

    And here we all are moaning how there are never enough nurses! A good move to exclude so many people?

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  • No one is saying that diploma nurses etc are inferior. The facts are this: Nursing is so demanding now that a person who cannot handle a Bsc will probably not be able to handle nursing.

    It costs tons and tons and tons of money to train as a nurse in the USA. Tons. Tons tons tons.

    It will cost you tens upon thousands every year that you train whether you do a diploma ( a few diploma programs are still in existance there), an associates degree or a BSc.

    And they have more people applying to nursing school than there are places. They work their way through school.

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  • "No one is saying that diploma nurses etc are inferior. The facts are this: Nursing is so demanding now that a person who cannot handle a Bsc will probably not be able to handle nursing."

    Should have added "will not be able to handle nursing in the future." It's a lot tougher than anything a social worker or teacher does and they are an all graduate profession.

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  • And most of the older trained nurses are no longer on the wards and haven't been since 1985. They are sat in an office somewhere, refusing to go near a patient, and devising more paperwork for the ward nurses. They sit on their bottoms and declare the younger nurses who are going through hell running between too many patients as "lacking in compassion".

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  • Hmm, Anna, your professional respect leaves something to be desired. Is that something they've taught you on your degree course?

    Many of the nurses needing to be chased out of the office is not something restricted to senior nurses!

    Sitting on their bottoms is no longer a choice for a lot of managers or nurses either - but talking out of them is!

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