Community nursing should be offered as a degree subject separate from general nursing, according to a leading nurse academic.
Laura Serrant-Green, professor of community and public health nursing at the University of Lincoln, told Nursing Times there was a tendency to view community nursing as simply district nurses, health visitors and school nurses.
But she said the expanding role of nurses in community settings – in line with policies on public health and moving more services out of hospitals and nearer to home – meant discussion was needed around future training.
Speaking ahead of her inaugural lecture at the university’s Lincoln Academy next week, Professor Serrant-Green said: “The entrepreneurial appeal that started community nursing is still here.
“The biggest thing is how we shape it in the future,” she said. “What kind of animals do community nurses need to be?”
Professor Serrant-Green said: “In the future there will be much more caring for groups and communities, rather than just treating individuals.”
She suggested a separate degree would support the “innovation and entrepreneurial approach” needed to “think on their feet” outside of hospital settings.
“We need to sit down and discuss what kind of community practitioners we need,” she said. “All the professional bodies need to start thinking about this now.”
Professor Serrant-Green said the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery, of which she is a member, had discussed the issue.
She said the commission’s job had been difficult because of the changes already taking place in the profession – namely the move to degree-only entry.
She said the commission’s final recommendations would offer a “direction of travel” on the future of nursing, with recommendations on to achieve it.
“It will say, what do we think we want in 20 years time and these are the paths to get there,” she said.
Professor Serrant-Green’s lecture – titled Lady Superintendents, Sanitary Inspectors and Entrepreneurs – Community Nursing, 150 Years and Counting – will consider the past and the future of community nursing.