THE DEBATE over whether nursing should become a degree-only profession has been reignited by a new consultation on pre-registration training.
The consultation, launched by the NMC last week, is a prelude to a UK-wide overhaul of the system and coincides with a review of post-registration training in England outlined by the Department of Health.
The proposals also raise the possibility of an ‘internship’ period post qualification (NT News, 14 August, p3), and the introduction of mandatory clinical training in the community.
Although the NMC does not give a position on whether it believes training should be degree only, it says there is a trend towards such a move across the rest of the world.
The RCN and Unite/CPHVA believe that nursing should be degree level, however, the current Unison position is that diploma should be the minimum standard – although the union is to consult members again on this issue before responding to the consultation.
Gail Adams, Unison’s head of nursing, said: ‘There’s no evidence to suggest that degree-level training provides better public protection and public protection is the NMC’s primary concern.’
She also warned that making it degree only could limit the range of people entering the profession.
But RCN policy adviser Jane Naish argued that this was not the case. ‘A lot of people felt nurses were working at a graduate level anyway, so in a sense they’re being short-changed by a diploma.’
There is also likely to be a debate over internship. NMC education adviser Garth Long said that, while the current system of preceptorship worked well in some areas, it was not effective across the board.
‘We want to know if there should be some kind of mandatory requirement and does that mean the NMC should set outcomes that have to be achieved during that period and whether that should be linked to the first renewal of registration,’ he said.
The consultation is open until 8 February 2008 and is available on the NMC website.