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.
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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?