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Nurses and stakeholders split on move to all-graduate profession

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The majority of nurses are opposed to a move to an all-graduate profession, putting them at odds with most nursing bodies, suggest findings from a major review of pre-registration education.

An NMC report on its consultation into the future of pre-registration education, launched in November, shows that almost 70% of 1,400 nurses responding wanted the minimum entry into the profession to remain at diploma level.

The report states that nurses said ‘safe and effective clinical competence is more important than academic achievement and one does not need to be academic to be a good nurse or be academic to understand complex needs’.

Making the profession all graduate would deter those with less academic backgrounds, whereas diplomas would maintain an emphasis on caring, it quotes respondents as saying.

However, their views are at odds with those of some of the bodies that represent them. Of the 19 stakeholder organisations to respond, 84% – including the RCN – said nursing should become degree only.

Of the 319 other organisations to respond, which included higher education institutions, 62% backed a degree-only education model.

The RCN believes graduate education is necessary to give nurses the skills to cope with future demands (NT News, 19 February, p2).

Jane Naish, RCN policy adviser, said that a separate college consultation had also shown that the majority of individuals wanted to keep it as a diploma.

But she added: ‘If you look at all of the work the RCN has done at congress over the last three years, I do not believe we have gone against the majority of members. When you talk to members they start to see the sense about it and we need to get across to people what this is about.’

Unison is against a degree-only profession. Gail Adams, the union’s head of nursing, said: ‘There is no surprise in the responses from the nurses. It is what our members told us and we articulated that view in our response.’

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