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Placement hours 'could be reduced' under NMC review of education standards

  • 18 Comments

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”

Geraldine Walters

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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Geraldine Walters

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”

Geraldine Walters

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.

 

  • 18 Comments

Readers' comments (18)

  • I'm a first year student nurse and agree that maybe it is a lot of hours, however I don't learn by being sat in a lecture theater being told how to do something so I hope that if the hours are reduced it's more hands on training in small groups

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  • I agree. Tell someone how to do something and they'll remember for a day, show someone how to do something and they'll remember for a week, let someone do something with guidance and support and they'll be able to actually do it for years to come

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  • I'm a 1st year student and will be finishing my first placement in two weeks. At that point, I'll have more than 200 practice hours under my belt. Given just how varied nursing is, doing another 3 x 6-week placements would in my opinion leave me woefully short of being competent in practice. If the practice hours necessary to qualify are going to be cut, it's almost inevitable that newly qualified nurses won't be as well rounded as they turn out under the current curriculum.

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  • Interesting that the article mentions reducing hrs to accommodate nursing associate... Does this mean that student nurses will get less in practice experience because they need placements for nursing associates. I qualified January and if practice hours were less I reckon I would not have been ready to qualify and have had less confidence

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  • I am only 2 months into my nursing degree and have not yet been on placement. I have found that the skills sessions are hard to learn from - so far it has been fairly basic skills and with 1 teacher to 30 students you don't get the chance to ask questions or watch really closesly. I fully expect to learn far more in 1 day in placement than in 8 weeks of simulation.

    Also you know the simulations are not real so some people don't take it as seriously as they should.

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  • agree with the other comments. It might be a good idea to actually ask students?

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  • As a final year student, I feel that more time in a stimulated environment would be beneficial - Staffing shortages often mean that students are used as an "extra pair of hands" leaving less opportunity to practice skills on placement.

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  • I am in my third year now and have to do two 12 week placements this year I am half way through my first placement I am so exhausted it's unreal I was in placement during summer until the end of august too from last year and started 4 weeks of elective placement in September. Because I am so exhausted all the time from placement and also working because I have no money for petrol to get to placement I have no time to do my work. I am really worried that my academic work will suffer this year just because of the ridiculous amount of hours we have to do.

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  • I am in my third year now and have to do two 12 week placements this year I am half way through my first placement I am so exhausted it's unreal I was in placement during summer until the end of august too from last year and started 4 weeks of elective placement in September. Because I am so exhausted all the time from placement and also working because I have no money for petrol to get to placement I have no time to do my work. I am really worried that my academic work will suffer this year just because of the ridiculous amount of hours we have to do.

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  • I went to work in australia 9 months after qualyfing as i couldnt get a job over here. In those 9 months i worked as an admin assistant. After my interview in australia all of the interviewers said just how good my knowledge was in comparrison to newly qualifieds from australia and i believe this was purely down to how many hours i spent on placement absorbing so much information. Lets not forget australian studnets may only have to do 800 hours of clinical practice but these are done across all disciplines with them only specialising in a particular field (ie Adult/mental helath/paediatric) once they have qualified. After they qualify as i experinced they are on a grad programme with education sessions built in and an education facilitator who will come and work with them on the wards at least once a month and more as needed. If we reduce the number of practice hours then we need to have a similar programme for our newly qualfied nurses.

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