Nursing academics and regulators have raised serious concerns about a “nursing diploma” course offered online that appears to suggest you can gain a nursing qualification for just £19 with a total of 30 hours’ work.
The online course, which is accredited by awarding body IAP and offered by professional training firm 1 Training, is described as an “adult nursing diploma”.
“This kind of advertising is not helpful and is misleading”
Until relatively recently, a nursing diploma was still a recognised route to becoming a fully qualified nurse and there are fears the title and description could be “misleading”.
“A nursing diploma is a rigorous program that imparts to students skills, such as administering medicine, caring for patients and working as part of a medical team,” stated the information about the course on 1 Training’s website.
“IAP offers an exciting opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge that you need to know about nursing,” it said.
It also promised that course participants will “learn the key points of health and safety for nursing” and “become masters of pain management”, as well as learning about “oxygenation in nursing”.
The course is currently on offer for “£19 per 60 days” and appears to have been reduced from £130. Participants will also have to pay an extra £89 for “assessment and certification”.
“[It] will add to the confusion about the definition of a nurse”
According to the website, more than 340 people have enrolled for the course to date.
To pass the course, they will have to do one quiz and an assignment with a pass mark of 50%.
“If you pass the exam successfully, then you will be awarded a diploma in adult nursing,” said the website.
It suggested a wide target audience for the training, including general nurses, midwives, mental health nurses, health and social care workers, university graduates and school leavers.
However, nursing academics have suggested people who want to enter the profession could be misled into thinking it was a way of directly becoming a registered nurse.
Dr Elaine Maxwell, associate professor in leadership at London South Bank University’s nursing school, was among those who raised concerns.
“I have concerns both about the lack of recognition about the level of education required to become a nurse and also the misrepresentation that might lead people to believe that this online course might help them to become registered nurses,” she said.
“It comes at the same time as Health Education England is piloting the role of nursing associate and will add to the confusion about the definition of a nurse, potentially causing a risk to patient safety,” she added.
Professor Alison Leary, nurse and chair of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University, also described the advert for the course as “misleading”.
“This kind of advertising is not helpful and is misleading – it alludes to gaining a qualification that is already defined as leading to registration as a nurse in the recent past,” she said.
“It also exposes a much deeper issue,” she said. “The term nurse is not protected and this is a good example of how the public and other professionals can be misled by lack of clarity.”
The two academics first spotted the details of the course on the website of recruitment firm Reed, which advertises course for providers.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council has since contacted Reed to ask for the advert to be removed. The nursing regulator also said it would be contacting the course provider.
“We have recently been made aware of a number of ‘nursing diploma’ courses advertised on the Reed website,” said an NMC spokesman.
“As soon as we became aware of these courses we asked Reed to remove them, which they have now done,” he said.
“We will be speaking to the provider of these courses to ensure that they make it clear that these are not NMC approved courses nor do they lead to entry to the NMC’s register,” he added.
Course provider 1 Training told Nursing Times that it was taking action to address concerns about the course title and the way it was advertised and confirmed the ad had “temporarily” been removed from the Reed site.
“We have already taken action to change the course title and web content and I hope this will be fully done by the end of this month,” said a member of the company’s course management team.
Mark Rhodes, director of markerting at Reed.co.uk, said: “We work with a large number of course providers who offer their learning opportunities to users of our website – courses are purchased directly from the course provider.
“In this instance, concerns were raised to us by users of Reed.co.uk about a course entitled ‘Adult Nursing Diploma’; we were also contacted by the NMC in relation to the same course,” he added.
“This course was removed from Reed.co.uk and, as an added precaution, all courses with the same title have been removed whilst we investigate the specific concerns raised,” said Mr Rhodes.
“We are now working directly with the NMC and with the course provider, who is responsible for both the course content and the advertising material used on Reed.co.uk, to ensure courses being promoted meet appropriate standards of quality and compliance and that they are represented accurately to our users,” he said.
A spokesman told Nursing Times that IAP would be investigating the issue. “If something is wrong with the course title, we will be able to dig into it further and request to change the title or take necessary action,” he said.
Concerns raised about ‘misleading’ nursing diploma course