The Shape of Caring Review brought 34 recommendations for the training and education of nurses - both pre- and post-registration - and most of them have
been welcomed by the profession.
Of course many of its recommendations are aiming to improve the quality of nurse education and to ensure it prepares nurses to practise in modern healthcare. Adding a community branch to pre-registration education and offering more support to healthcare assistants in developing the skills to provide care (page 4) may alleviate problems that currently challenge providers. They should not be dismissed, but rather explored and considered.
It is heartening to see nurse education taken so seriously and investigated in such depth. There will be debate about the suggestion that nurses go into the four branches at a later stage - many graduates feel they cannot fully get to grips with the specifics of their branch in the time available, so this is proving to be a less-popular recommendation.
However, the report also recommends strengthening preceptorship for newly qualifi ed nurses; this will help them hone their skills and gain confi dence in their chosen area of practice.
Whatever your view, it is right we fully debate what is suitable for nurse education and what is not. Lord Willis’s objective perspectives are welcome, but it is nurses who must own this report and use it to shape a better landscape for nurse education.
This should not be another report in which nurses feel “done to” - it should be an opportunity to improve the way that nurses are trained and also to educate the public about what a nurse is and does. We should not be sidetracked by debates about whether nurses really need degrees, but celebrate the skills that nurses have, and explain to the public how these render them experts in caring for patients and service users.
Can you imagine doctors meekly acquiescing to an independent review on their education? They would challenge, take on board and adopt if they felt it would increase their standing.
Nursing should do the same. This is the time for nurses to decide what they want to be and not just conform to the public view of their profession. Nursing is the biggest - and so the most important - workforce in healthcare. Let’s use this opportunity to ensure the public understands this.
Jenni Middleton, editor
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