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Draft nurse education and assessment standards unveiled by nursing regulator

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Revamped draft education standards for nurse training have been published by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, ahead of a consultation expected to be launched in the coming weeks.

As per an earlier draft version of the document seen by Nursing Times, the standards include an extensive list of technical skills that all nurses will be required to learn, as well as a list of communication skills – regardless of their field of practice.

These include skills such as nasal tube insertion, injection of intravenous drugs, insertion of catheters, management of electrocardiograms, and blood component transfusions.

However, contrary to the earlier version, the final draft document indicates which fields of nursing – adult, children, mental health, learning disability – will require more advanced teaching in certain skills.

While elements of prescribing theory will be taught in pre-registration programmes, nurses will not gain a prescribing qualification as part of this training, which had previously been suggested.

Teaching at an undergraduate level will “provide a stepping stone to earlier access to gain prescribing qualifications after registration,” state NMC council papers, which contain the draft standards and that were published earlier this week.

The papers said that, due to the grounding nurses will have received in their undergraduate training, they will be equipped to go on a community practitioner prescribing course – known as a V150 programme – immediately after they become registered. This qualification allows nurses to prescribe from a limited formulary.

In addition, the NMC is proposing that nurses will only be required to have one year’s experience of post registration practice in order to go on a more advanced prescribing course – the V300 programme – to become a supplementary or independent prescriber, instead of the current three years.

“We are proposing this reduction [to the amount of experience needed to gain a prescribing qualification] due to patient need and new models of care…”


“We are proposing this reduction due to patient need and new models of care, the successful enhancement in the scope of prescribing practice and enhanced theoretical knowledge gained by nurses to support progression towards prescribing practice,” said the papers.

Under proposed new standards the NMC has drawn up for universities providing prescribing courses, nurses will continue to have to pass a pharmacology exam with a score of 80%, and a numeracy assessment of 100%.

In addition, the NMC has proposed to base its standards for individuals on the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s single competency framework for all prescribers.

Meanwhile, in its draft standards for pre-registration courses, the NMC has proposed simulation activities may be used for up to half of the 2,300 hours students are required to spend in practice during their degree.

Currently, the NMC stipulates a maximum of 300 hours may be spent in simulation. As previously reported by Nursing Times, the change could mean students spend less time on placements.

In addition, the proposals reveal that the NMC is proposing to look at a national standardised practice assessment document in order to “improve consistency of outcome judgments on student proficiency”.

As has been previously suggested, the NMC is also proposing to change the way mentoring works. Students will in the future be supervised in practice by any registered health or social care professional, according to the latest plans.

Separately from supervision, they will be assessed by “a nominated practice assessor” and also a “nominated academic assessor”, who will be required to be a registered nurse or midwife.

However, the NMC does not intend to set proficiencies for these two new roles, and supervisors and assessors would not be required to complete an NMC-approved course. This would represent a change from the current situation regarding mentors.

“Instead, we will encourage agreed innovative and creative approaches to supervision and assessment to be in place,” said the draft plans.

In addition, the NMC said that, in the future, “it may not be necessary for a student nurse to be assessed by a nurse from the same field of practice”.

“This will be a change from current practice, which requires a student nurse to be assessed by nurse from the same part and sub-part of the register. This will allow educators from academic and practice settings to decide locally who is best placed to do this,” said the NMC proposals.

The NMC council will meet next week on 24 May in Cardiff to decide whether to agree to launch a consultation based on the draft proposals laid out in the papers.

In total, the NMC has published seven draft documents as part of its council papers. These are:

  • Draft standards of proficiency for the future registered nurse
  • A new draft education framework for Approved Education Institutions (AEIs), practice placement and work placed partners which include:
  1. Draft education and training standards relating to all learning in theory and practice, including a new draft model of learning and assessment
  2. Draft programme requirements to underpin the draft standards of proficiency for the future registered nurse
  3. Draft programme requirements to underpin prescribing programmes for nurse and midwife prescribers
  • Proposals to adopt the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) single competency framework for all prescribers as our standards of proficiency for prescribing practice
  • Proposals to withdraw our standards for medicines management 


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Readers' comments (1)

  • What planet are these ivory tower academics on with these draft proposals? There are not enough trained nurses to look after frail, elderly patients with polypharmacy symptoms and ill health let alone to now propose the training of psuedo pharmacists graduates and simulated trained 'health professionals' in the care of these vulnerable patients. Shame on the Nursing Leaders. The death knell on nursing has been rung...RIP

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