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Nurse education standards 'need revising to higher level', suggests review


Interim findings from a review of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s set of standards for pre-registration education have indicated they are no longer fit for purpose and need updating.

The standards for undergraduate nurse education are complex and result in perceived variation of knowledge and skills among registrants, interim findings from a UK-wide evaluation of nurse competencies have revealed.

“Changes in skill mix, with growing numbers of unregistered carers… are placing greater responsibility on the registered nurse for delegation”

NMC council papers

At the same time, nurses are facing “significant” challenges as they care for patients with more complex conditions and are increasingly required to be team leaders, according to the evaluation, which was commissioned by the nursing regulator.

To address this, current education standards must be made clearer and ensure students are trained with higher level skills and competencies, it added.

The evaluation was set up by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to find out if its current education standards fully equip students for the nursing role they will be going into.

The work is being led by Dame Jill Macleod Clark, a professor at the University of Southampton and former nurse.

In NMC council papers published last week, interim findings revealed stakeholders – which included nurse directors, frontline staff, academics and newly qualified nurses – said the standards were complex and resulted in variability.

Future standards should be clearer, include leadership skills and should differentiate what is required of a registered nurse in relation to other health and care staff, they added.


Jill Macleod-Clark

“Unprecedented” changes in health and care have taken place since 2010 – when the standards were last updated – according to the papers.

“Similarly, changes in skill mix, with growing numbers of unregistered carers and blurring of professional boundaries, are placing greater responsibility and accountability on the registered nurse for delegation, support and supervision,” they added.

The report on the interim findings concluded: “The intelligence gathered to date supports the need to review the current standards for pre-registration.

“Whilst there are many examples of excellent education provision, there were also questions with respect to the consistency and clarity across the UK.”

“Future standards with greater clarity, transparency and prescription of outcomes would provide a stable platform on which to build reliable and valid assessment,” it said.

Issues were identified about the increasing clinical leadership roles of registered nurses and the knowledge and skills required to deal with complexity and co-morbidity.

“There is a clear need to ensure that education outcomes are geared to higher level skills and competencies”

NMC council papers

”There is a clear need to ensure that education outcomes are geared to higher level skills and competencies,” said the report.

The NMC council, which will meet this week, has been advised to accept the recommendation to revise undergraduate standards for nurses and midwives, which are expected to be in place by the end of 2017. Separately, revised standards for universities and placement providers would also be brought in by 2017.

The plans come at the same time the NMC and workforce planning body Health Education England are developing proposals in response to a major review last year of education and training standards for nurses and healthcare assistants.

The review, called the Shape of Caring, made 34 recommendations including the suggestion nurses should receive two years of general training – in both mental and physical health – before specialising.

A full update on the NMC’s work in response to the Shape of Caring review is expected in March as part of its education strategic delivery plan.


Readers' comments (2)

  • michael stone

    The conclusion of this, does seem to be in line with the many comments on NT about 'how complicated modern nursing has become' [although the inadequacy of the 2010 standards, is something the authors can judge and I cannot].


    '... and should differentiate what is required of a registered nurse in relation to other health and care staff'

    might also help, in terms of getting 'staff mixes' right (and preventing 'management 'gaming' re staffing levels).

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • About 20 years late.

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