The Nursing and Midwifery Council has been told by nurses that its new education plans lack details about the level of knowledge and capability that students will require across a range of skills.
More information should be provided that lays out the minimum proficiency needed by nurses, said members of the profession at an event in Manchester last week, which was hosted by the NMC
“If indicated, we will address this confusion by working with groups of stakeholders to make our intentions clearer”
The regulator’s draft standards for pre-registration training include an extensive list of more than 100 technical and communication skills that all nurses should be able to do – regardless of their field of practice – by the end of their course.
They also indicate which fields of nursing – adult, children’s, mental health and learning disability – will require more in-depth teaching in certain areas.
It is part of a series of changes being proposed in a major overhaul of nurse training, which the NMC is consulting on ahead of universities introducing new courses by 2019.
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NMC head of education Dr Geraldine Walters told Nursing Times that the event last week had revealed that nurses were unclear which skills students should have an awareness of by the end of the course and which ones they should be proficient enough in to carry out in practice confidently.
“The question was: can we be really specific about what needs to be a practice proficiency at registration, and what needs to be a level of awareness that we want people to have and not necessarily something they might have practised extensively during their training,” she said.
“Some students will get to practise some things on placement more than those who have been in different placements”
She reiterated that all branches of nursing would have to reach the same minimum level of proficiency across the list of skills – designed to ensure nurses receive an equal grounding in both physical and mental healthcare – and then additional teaching would be required on top depending on their field.
But Dr Walters acknowledged that different students would be exposed to certain skills more times than others depending on their placements.
“Some students will get to practise some things on placement more than those who have been in different placements,” she told Nursing Times. “What we want to get them onto is a minimum level of proficiency.”
Dr Walters said conversations with the profession so far had indicated that the number of skills did not need to be reduced – but that the regulator needed to provide more information about them.
“When we have the full results of the consultation, if indicated, we will address this confusion by working with groups of stakeholders to make our intentions clearer,” she added.
She noted that the NMC would also be producing field-specific programme requirements for universities, which would offer more details.
Meanwhile, in response to recent criticism that the list of skills is too focused on physical healthcare and hospitals, Dr Walters highlighted they had been developed with experts across all of the fields of nursing and stressed that standards did not mention hospitals at all.
She acknowledged that the list of physical healthcare proficiencies “would probably take up more room on the page”, but noted that mental health skills were often based around communication, which could not be counted in the same way.
“We haven’t forgotten it, but if mental health nurses would like to see more in there that are more specific, we would be happy to receive those,” added Dr Walters.
The NMC’s event in Manchester on 27 June was attended by around 50 senior nurses, two thirds of whom worked in education and the rest within services.
It is one of five meetings planned by the NMC in major cities across the UK during the summer, as well as five other events looking at specific parts of the education plans, ahead of the public consultation on the proposals closing on 12 September.