My phone rang virtually off the hook last Wednesday with researchers for national media wanting to know our take on the Care Quality Commission’s report into hospitals’ care of older people.
One researcher, in particular, was adamant I helped him back up his theory that poor care was due to nurses now getting degrees instead of the “proper education” of the good old days.
I pointed out nurses have long been able to get degrees. This isn’t a new thing. And that as universities haven’t been forced to introduce all-degree training yet and even those that started it last month have only just had their first intake, his argument was not watertight.
“So in your opinion,” the insistent researcher asked, “the best way to train these young women is degrees?”
After rolling my eyes ceiling-ward, I clarified that was not my point, and that nursing training is also undertaken by men, and, in fact, people of any age. I then tried to convince him that while poor standards can’t be excused, many factors are affecting care - workload, staffing levels, skill mix, resources, society’s attitude to older people and competing NHS priorities.
“Yes, yes,” said Mr-Growing-more-impatient-by-the-second why-can’t-you-just-agree-with-my-theory. “But can you find me a traditional nurse who thinks this degree stuff is all nonsense?”
Back home, I switched on my television to check if said programme had managed to find that someone I’d refused to help locate. I was relieved to discover they hadn’t.
In what other profession would you hear the media suggest intelligence was a bad thing? Why must society derail the notion that nurses can be clever and compassionate? Nurses are not neglecting the latter if they pursue a path that proves they are the former.
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There will be no Editor Direct webchat this week, instead we’ll talk about this topic next Wednesday at 1pm on nursingtimes.net.