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Nurses back career pathways

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The Department of Health is to push ahead with its plan to modernise nursing careers by introducing structured clinical pathways.

Chief nursing officer for England Dame Christine Beasley (pictured) last week announced the results of a government consultation on its proposals for a new framework for post-registration careers, published last November.

The report concluded that there was ‘broad support’ for the careers pathway approach, though it noted it had proved to be contentious. For example, as reported by NT, some mental health and learning disabilities nurses were concerned the new approach would not benefit them.
Additionally, the report said there were concerns that the pathways would create professional ‘silos’ in some roles or that they were too generalised to meet the needs of an ageing population largely being treated in the community.

Overall, it reported that nurses had said change was needed, as the current way of organising careers lacked ‘structure and consistency’.

In a briefing on the findings, deputy chief nursing officer for England Janice Sigsworth said they represented a ‘mandate’ to adopt the pathway approach.

‘We’ve got feedback from our consultation that nurses want to pursue a pathway approach, slowly and cautiously with some caveats – making the pathway approach flexible and transferable,’ she said.

She added that the five pathways in the consultation had not been definitely agreed upon and that this number could increase or decrease, and that there was no set timeline for the next stage.

‘It’ is important to go forward but not at a pace that leaves you with a system that is
then the worst in the world,’ she said.

Additionally, Ms Beasley last week unveiled further details of four new clinical academic careers pathways for nurses: at master’s level; at PhD level; post-doctoral career fellowships; and senior clinical academic fellowships. These courses will allow nurses to continue in clinical practice while they carry out research.

The National Coordinating Centre for Research Capacity Development will, over the coming months, establish a transparent process for higher education institutions to apply to run the courses and individuals to study on them.

‘Optimistically, we’ll have our first students on some of those programmes starting in February of next year, with the full lot hopefully applying and starting by September 2010,’ Ms Sigsworth told NT.

Cancer Research UK has already developed fellowships for nurses who are interested in taking part in oncology research.

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