Nurses often complain that policies, practices and decisions are made above their heads and they are not included in conversations that define the profession.
- The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s draft education standards are open for consultation until 12 September 2017
- This is your opportunity to shape the future of the profession
- Provider organisations must engage with the standards as much as the educationalists
- 50% of student nurse training is in practice and it is important to ensure that this is represented well by the standards
There is no doubt that nurses are frequently sidelined and not invited to the table to discuss what matters to them and their peers. This goes all the way to the very top. My belief is that even some of the most senior nurse leaders are excluded from informing debates about pay, practice and resources in a way that their medical colleagues are not.
Look around at some of the decisions that have been made recently about agency staff, staffing levels, pay and the bursary. It feels like those decisions have been made by ministers without even checking them out with a nurse.
“some of the most senior nurse leaders are excluded from informing debates”
But there is currently a chance to inform what was described by one chief nurse to me this week as “the most important thing to happen to nursing for a generation”, and that chance is not being taken, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Speaking at the Nursing Times Deputies’ Congress earlier this week, Geraldine Walters, the NMC’s director of nursing and midwifery education, standards and policy, said that educationalists were “all over” its consultation on new education standards for nursing and midwifery, but the invitation to comment on the draft plans was not being taken up in quite the same way by providers.
Dr Walters said she understood why. Having been a trust chief nurse herself until just over a year ago, she is all too aware of the pressures facing nursing and how difficult it was to engage with any activity that isn’t helping treat patients right here and right now.
But she highlighted that the new standards could improve the care of those patients and future users of healthcare services by empowering nurses to increase their scope of practice.
The idea being that if nurses can prescribe or have the power to treat patients without waiting for a consultant, patients can be seen quicker, and when they are seen quicker and treated quicker, they get better quicker.
“They need to help the regulator to understand the nuances of what its proposals mean”
So, engaging with these education standards is vital to shape the future of nursing but also ensure that patients receive the best care as quickly and efficiently as possible. Those who will be mentoring or working with the nurses of the future need to have a say in the skills that the profession will need to practise successfully.
They need to help the regulator to understand the nuances of what its proposals mean in certain care settings and in various parts of practice.
Only by sending your opinions on the standards can you have your say in what nursing should look like in the future.
I mostly hear nurses complimenting the standard of education of student nurses, and of course we see excellent results of that education emerging to win our Student Nursing Times Awards every year. But there are gaps and areas where I know registrants feel student nurses are unprepared for the world of work and need a greater understanding of what being a registered nurse will entail in practice. This is your opportunity to get those views heard, so take it.
Don’t leave it to someone else – your experience in nursing matters and is as important as anyone else’s – and arguably more important if you spend your time seeing patients and service users.
So, make sure you don’t sideline yourself, and speak up.