Education and training must change to ensure we produce nurses able to provide care in the way the public will expect in the future.
Our story on page 3 highlights concerns expressed by senior nurses that student nurses are not being trained appropriately to provide care across more integrated care settings. They say universities must work closely with providers to ensure undergraduates meet future health service users’ expectations. As the proportion of healthcare provided in the community grows, this failing will become increasingly serious.
There has been much debate about whether nurse education was better when it was “less academic” and “more practical”. This, to my mind, isn’t the issue. Education should include an academic component. Nurses need to be taught theory to support their skills and competence as the complexity of their role and patients’ needs grow. However, they should also be trained in close partnership with local NHS and private healthcare providers to ensure they understand what patients and service users want.
A change in how nurses are educated and approach their roles gives them a huge opportunity to take the lead in delivering high-quality, integrated care. Qualified and student nurses work closely with patients, and understand and respond to their feedback, which gives them an insight most health professionals don’t have. Couple this with advancing technology and a desire for efficiency savings, and nursing is in a prime position to use this changing landscape to articulate its contribution to healthcare.
On a recent visit to Nottingham University Hospitals Trust I was impressed with how this was achieved - the trust and university work closely so student nurses’ learning experiences reflect the needs of the provider. When they qualify, nurses have the skills and competencies that fit roles at NUH. The trust has also set up a newly qualified forum to harness the energy and objective ideas of new nurses for quality improvements and service innovations. At NUH, nursing leads the conversation about change.
Too often, other professions, government ministers and the media rush in to declare what nursing needs. Nursing has allowed that and given power away. This needs to change because the only real experts in nursing are nurses themselves.
Jenni Middleton, editor
Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed