The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s review of pre-registration standards for education will look at whether the amount of time students spend on placements should be reduced to include more time for simulation, the regulator’s head of policy has said.
Dr Geraldine Walters, a nurse and the NMC’s recently appointed director of education, standards and policy, suggested this could help to deal with the strain on placements, particularly in England due to the need to train new roles such as the nursing associate.
“At the heart of it all, as a profession we’ve got to decide what our role is in the 21st century”
The NMC confirmed earlier this year that it would start revising its nursing education standards during 2016, after interim research found they should be made clearer and ensure students were trained with higher level skills and competencies.
Dr Walters revealed some of the requirements that the regulator was looking at changing during an event in London this week.
She told nurses the NMC was considering whether prescribing should be included in pre-registration training, whether students should begin with generic training before specialising at a later point in their degrees, and whether preceptorship should be more formalised.
She also pointed to the different viewpoints among the profession about whether the standards should be more prescriptive and include a set of standardised tasks that all nurses are required to be able to do, or whether they should be less restrictive and instead emphasise the need for critical thinking skills.
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In addition, Dr Walters said there was a discussion taking place on ways to prepare nurses to be autonomous practitioners and how far training should include advanced practice skills, such as those for diagnosis, assessment and treatment.
She urged the profession to contribute to the NMC‘s consultation, due to begin next spring, saying the new standards were needed to help create a “streamlined view” about what nursing was and to give the workforce a voice in the future.
Speaking at the Royal College of Nursing’s international centenary conference this week, Dr Walters said there were a number of “controversies” surrounding the review.
“At the heart of it all, as a profession we’ve got to decide what our role is in the 21st century. And that’s when you get into some real controversies,” she said.
Dr Walters noted this included reviewing whether the NMC’s current requirement for 2,300 practice hours were too few or too many and whether more of this time should be allocated to simulation.
She noted that in Australia trainee nurses were only required to complete 800 hours in practice before qualification.
“Is 2,300 too many? Would students get more benefit spending more time in simulation or more time in the classroom?,” she said.
“All these aren’t the NMC’s decision, they are decisions for the profession to take – certainly if we want to see a streamlined view and if we want to have a voice in the future,” she said.
“There is going to be a lot of strain on placements and we need to put that into context”
Dr Walters later told Nursing Times that part of the reason the practice hours requirement needed reviewing was due to potential problems in the future with employers having enough capacity to host placements.
“There are government plans for apprentices, nursing associates and there are also other new roles coming through,” she said. “There is going to be a lot of strain on placements and we need to put that into context and look at how can we make placements better.”
She noted the requirement for 2,300 hours of student training to be spent in practice – and the other 2,300 hours to be spent learning theory – was laid out in European legislation.
However, she suggested that the NMC’s current rule for a maximum of 300 of those hours to be spent through simulation activities could be altered.
Revised courses under the new standards will begin at some UK universities from 2018, with all education providers expected to comply by autumn 2019.
- Revamped courses under new standards from 2019
- New NMC standards could start at some universities in 2018