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NMC launches consultation on major changes to nurse education


The Nursing and Midwifery Council has launched its consultation on pre-registration training standards for nurses, urging members of the profession to take part and help “shape the future of education”.

Last month the regulator published its proposals, which include more drug prescribing theory being taught at an undergraduate level and the requirement for all students to be competent in an extensive list of technical skills.

“The health and care landscape is changing at an unprecedented rate and nurses are being asked to undertake more complex roles”

Jackie Smith

The NMC said there was also an increased focus on public health, health education and leadership in the standards of proficiency.

The new requirements apply to nurses across all fields of practice – adult, children’s, mental health and learning disability nursing – and are designed to give a more detailed understanding across both mental and physical health and care.

In an interview with Nursing Times this week, NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said she believed the proposals had “cracked” the challenge of incorporating mental and physical healthcare education.

Today’s consultation also includes new standards for universities and organisations providing placements.

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith

Changes include allowing universities to use simulation activities for up to half of the 2,300 hours that students are required to spend in practice during their degree – instead of the current limit of 300. This could mean students spend less time on placements.

In addition, the regulator wants to alter the way mentoring works. According to the proposals, students will in the future be supervised in practice by any registered health or social care professional.

But their learning will be judged by a “nominated practice assessor” and also a “nominated academic assessor”, both required to be a registered nurse or midwife.

The NMC said it aimed to reduce the variability of learning in practice and “ensure a more consistent student experience that enables them to meet the requirements necessary for registration”.

“The health and care landscape is changing at an unprecedented rate and nurses and midwives are being asked to undertake more complex roles than ever before,” said Ms Smith, as she launched the consultation today.

“It is vital that we hear from everyone on our register, employers, educators and the public about our proposals”

Jackie Smith

She said: “In the coming years many thousands of nurses and midwives will join our register, delivering care to millions of people. Our standards must ensure that they are able to work in ways that are not only fit for today, but also for the future.

“It is now vital that we hear from everyone on our register, employers, educators and the public about our proposals. This is your opportunity to have your say and shape the future of nursing education,” she added.

The NMC’s consultation on pre-registration education standards will now run until 12 September. The regulator will be running a series of engagement events including webinars, Twitter chats and workshops across the UK over the next three months.

It is expected to launch a second consultation on its new standards for medicines management and prescribing on Thursday.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Anthony Johnson

    How can you standardise education if your mentors will now be anybody?

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  • After all the issues of failure to fail and a lack of consistency in the interpretation of the SLAiP standards, the NMC is now saying the standard and quality of student education will be decided at a local level. So how does that protect the public and the profession?
    My main concerns:
    The practice assessor role - who will these people be? Are they going to be selected from current mentors? And if so I've already had feedback from placement organisations that they will not release these people to assess students in other placements? So the alternative is a formal University / Practice funded role - great - but these roles get cut when practice is short of money - and will that person be happy to be the accountable practitioner judging student competency and safety predominantly based on supervisor feedback rather than working alongside the student in practice? How can the NHS say that this will prevent failure to fail, and how on earth does this protect the public?

    Some practitioners will love these new standards as it means they can ignore students even more in practice, fail to teach them and use them as a pair of hands. Everything will be left up to the practice assessor and I fear that even with a 'coaching' model of supervision the coaches will believe they are not responsible or accountable for what the student does or doesn't do or learn.

    There are some good things in the new pre-reg standards, but too acute hospital and adult nurse focused currently. Patient involvement seems to have been significantly weakened, which is really disappointing - perhaps evidences a tokenistic patient involvement strategy?

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  • Prior to the P2K and University models- all nurses were assessed by the SRNs on the ward. In effect all Registered nurses were mentors. For part of my training I had a little green book to complete. At the end of each placement a 'grilling' form my Ward Sister before she would sign my report. Frequent visits from a hospital based tutor and clinical teachers9seemed the dress code for their shoes was lax) we always heard them before they arrived on the ward. They were seen as a nuisance as they slowed up delivery of care- or did they? I would approach my students in a similar fashion and spend time with them relative to their position through their training. As each year passed i saw less and less of the University staff as if they had abandoned their charges.
    I am not enamoured with the current state of nurse education- the return of the 'green book' is a step backwards- but necessary when knowing how many students on qualifying are unable or feel ill equipped to perform some of the very basic tasks. Also how do they delegate if they are unable themselves.
    Something has to be done and it seems the NMC are just palming yet more responsibility onto the ward nurse who is struggling with an impossible workload and to teach. Students are not it seems to me engaging in the way we were expected to do in gaining new skills. The skills we had by the end of our first year of training outstripping what the universities allow students to do now. I hung blood by the end of my second ward- Nobody died!

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  • SML60 well said. I remember doing my aseptic techniques assessment and trembling because I was being assessed by the ward manager! I remember my drug assessment and again was assessed by the ward manager to this day I will never forget learning about the uses of Ferrous Sulphate and this was an orthopaedic ward! I really enjoyed my training I have no problem with P2000 or degree nursing. What I have a problem with is he lack of nursing knowledge on basic aspect of caring, communication, compassion and commitment for the role.

    I also remembered as a 3rd year student, another 3rd year student and I was left to manage the shift because the ward was understaffed (NB nothing has changed this was about 23 years ago)! The ward manager was on duty and left us to it. This was a general surgical ward post op patients with colostomies, CVP lines, hourly urine measurement etc. No one died and you know what it made us better nurses! I think there is something about hands on care that is imperative for good nursing care!

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  • I have nothing against a degree trained nurse- but feel the degree should be a secondary consideration- Knowledge without the how to is meaningless. It seems Nursing is not the only degree that has this problem

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  • So they are bringing back Clinical Teachers! Regardless what they call them, that is what they will be. Our Clinical Teachers worked with students on the ward and imparted a huge amount of practical knowledge which was underpinned by the theory taught in the classroom based training. The time they spent with students was protected and not dictated by the running of the ward, as it was when nurses had to take over their role.They got rid of them because it was cheaper to train the nurses as mentors and nursing suffered. This is a simultaneous step back and step forward. Let us hope that it works.

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