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NMC plans to press ahead with lifting cap on simulation training despite concerns

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Restrictions are set to be lifted on the quantity of simulation activities that universities can use, despite previous opposition to plans to remove a cap on the number of hours that students spent on this form of learning.

As part of major changes to nurse education, the Nursing and Midwifery Council originally wanted to remove its 300-hour limit on simulation and raise it to a maximum of 1,150 hours – half of the 2,300 hours students must spend in practice during their degrees.

“We will no longer state a maximum number for hours of simulation to be included in educational programmes”

NMC spokesman

However, a subsequent consultation on the proposals revealed a “large majority” of respondents wanted there to continue to be a cap, as stated in NMC council papers published last week.

The regulator had previously said its proposals could mean pre-registration students spend less time on practice placements – because they would be fulfilling more of the legally required 2,300 hours through simulation.

But, as previously reported by Nursing Times, early findings from the consultation suggested there was a “widely held conviction that simulation should not be seen as a substitute for hours spent in practice settings”.

In its latest council papers, which contain the regulator’s finalised education proposals, the NMC said it had “refined our approach” to simulation standards.

“Our approach recognises the growing role and importance of simulated learning, providing [universities] with flexibility in determining how simulation is used for learning and assessment whilst ensuring that the amount [of] requisite practice hours is not diminished and compliance with wider European Union legislation is achieved,” stated the papers.

A spokesman for the NMC confirmed to Nursing Times: “We will no longer state a maximum number for hours of simulation to be included in educational programmes for pre-registration nursing.

“Our new approach is to be less prescriptive and more outcome-focused, allowing [universities] autonomy to enhance and develop forms and uses of simulation for learning and assessment that facilitate safe and effective care,” the spokesman said.

“We will monitor and ensure that the type of simulation, and how it is applied, is appropriate”

NMC spokesman

“However, we will monitor and ensure that the type of simulation, and how it is applied, is appropriate to meet the learning outcomes of our standards through our educational quality assurance process,” he added.

The NMC council will meet on Wednesday to discuss its new standards for pre-registration nursing programmes and decided whether to approve them.

At the same meeting, the council will also decide whether to approve revised proficiencies for nurses, updated student assessment requirements, new prescribing standards, and the planned removal of medicines management standards, which have also all recently been consulted on.

It will also decide whether to launch a consultation on nursing associate education proposals, which were outlined in the same council papers last week.

It is expected that all universities will have to revamp nursing courses in line with the new standards by September 2020.

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