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Leaders may escape degree demand


Plans to require nurse leaders to obtain a degree by 2020 may be dropped, Nursing Times understands.

The proposal was included in the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England report, published in March.

However, there is now doubt whether the proposal will be implemented at all. That follows concerns the change would penalise experienced senior nurses without degrees, and be irrelevant to those with highly specialist skills.

NHS Employers deputy head of employment services Caroline Waterfield said that trusts were not being told to implement the recommendation.

She said: “Individual organisations will need to make their minds up as to which qualifications their nurses should have.”

Council of Deans of Health chair Sue Bernhauser said: “Some commissioners were very concerned about making it an absolute requirement because there are people in these jobs who can’t be required to have degrees.”

She said 60 per cent of nurses did not have degrees, although this would gradually decrease after the requirement for all newly qualified nurses to have a degree came into effect from 2013.

The Department of Health would not confirm whether a decision had been taken, saying it would respond to the commission’s recommendations “in due course”.

For nurses not wanting to undertake undergraduate studies, changes in Nursing and Midwifery Council rules due to be published on Thursday will allow learning acquired while practising to count for up to half of a nursing degree programme.

The new standards for preregistration training have been developed through a consultation with 5,000 people.

Until now, “prior learning” has only counted towards the maximum of a third of a degree.

However, NMC documents being discussed at Thursday’s council meeting state that in most cases, prior learning will make up a smaller proportion of nursing degrees than the new maximum of 50 per cent.

All preregistration nursing programmes must meet the new NMC standards by September 2013.

The standards will be published alongside guidance, which includes a section on mentoring following concerns, uncovered by Nursing Times, that mentors often feel unable to fail poorly performing students.


Readers' comments (7)

  • Nurse Leaders not only need to be as equally qualified as the nurses they are leading but to be qualified to an even higher level.

    I could not respect someone trying to tell me what to do or 'lead' me if they were less qualified than I am. After all, to be effective in making policy decisions and to sit on boards requires a high level of education and understanding.

    Similarly in Clinical Leadership roles, the 'Leader' needs to the most effective clinician backed up by the knowledge that experience and higher education brings.

    Dr Peter Carter is a prime example

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  • having a masters degree in health care management is no guarantee for a leadership job in nursing either! the nhs is a closed shop and nobody wants to know.

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  • I am appalled by Jacqueline de Laporte's comments. Who do you think you are? Does your degree replace the ongoing education (most of which is at level 3) and expertise learnt from years of experience, I think not? Do you ask everyone you speak to if they have a degree or higher before deciding whether to carry on with your interaction with them? I'm afraid I don't respect someone just because they have a degree, respect is earned. You are very naive, and hopefully you can learn from you own forthcoming experience during your nursing career and drop this academic snobbery. I am not adverse to nurses being educated to degree level, it is time to move on, but all nurses are aware of EBP these days and you cannot keep your registration up without evidence of continuing education. I have an MSc which I needed to get the 'piece of paper', but I kept myself up to date anyway with the ability to critically analyse, due to undertaking a research module as part of my ongoing education. I didn't need a degree to tell me that.

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  • I've always thought that having a degree in nursing is a bit like having a degree in how to be a mechanic. Nurses by definition are not academics. Any honest medic will tell you that. So let's stop pretending otherwise.

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  • management is no longer just about nursing but includes the management of other resources such as personnel, financial, material, etc and further management training is essential for a leadership role whether this ends in a diploma or a degree. Experience in nursing and managing teams is vital but unfortunately no longer sufficient for a management role in current organisational settings. Successful management through the appropriate training raises standards of patient care, in turn through recruitment and retention of staff, through motivation, conflict management, stress reduction through good time and task management, absence of bullying and a congenial and collegiate working climate where everbody wants to work. This all takes highly skilled and well trained managers and at present this is most probably best achieved through higher education such as a Master's Degree or MBA.

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  • reply to
    Anonymous | 16-Sep-2010 2:38 am

    you can't do nursing without a brain!

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  • in the ('good') old days nurses climbed up the career ladder into management positions. the nature of the work that nursing involved and the experience and skills they gained was expected to give them the required skills for posts of responsibility. however, management in organisations has become far more complex as has the managerial role of nurses and nursing care itself with its extended roles and with the introduction of IT, more complex technology and evidence based medicine and nursing care. It can be argued that nurses in management training now need a university degree and preferably at master's level where the courses offer them a theoretical background and development of the required skills in resource management, organisational psychology, medical law and ethics, a philosophical understanding of nursing care and nursing models, critical thinking and the ability to appraise and implement the evidence from reasearch studies on nursing care. If nursing was an all graduate profession nurses in training would get a good grounding in this theoretical background so that they later had the choice of whether to take this academic route into management. It is hard to see what alternatives there may be to this option in order to stay afloat successfully in all the diverse and complex issues involved with nursing management

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