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Trainee nurse drop-outs 'waste' £100m


Calls to reduce the £100m “wasted” on trainee nurses who drop out before their course is over by requiring applicants to have some care experience have been rejected by the Royal College of Nursing.

At the RCN Congress in Liverpool yesterday, the Suffolk branch proposed all those recruited to pre-registration nursing programmes should be required to have undertaken relevant health or social care experience prior to commencing their course.

Introducing the resolution Lisa Mickleburgh, student member of the branch, said: “Every year nearly £100m is wasted on nursing students who do not complete their training… it cannot be denied that some leave nursing because they decide it wasn’t for them.”

She said evidence showed 60% of drop outs occur in the first year of training while recent studies had found nurses with experience outside of the education system were more likely to complete their course.

The resolution had been submitted before the government’s proposal that individuals seeking funding for a nursing course should have to work as a healthcare assistant for a year.

Describing the government’s proposal as “unrealistic” Ms Mickleburgh said the branch was more in favour of a three month period, as proposed by Robert Francis QC in the Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry report.

She told delegates the resolution was not about ensuring caring and compassionate recruits but for individuals to find out whether nursing was for them.

She said: “At a time when the NHS is under extreme pressure financially can we afford not to ask our universities to be more selective?”

More than 50 members asked to speak on the proposal, however all of those that did were against it.

Lynne Phair, a consultant nurse for safeguarding older people, said: “Why is it OK for the frailest, most vulnerable in society to be the test-bed for whether people are suitable for nursing? Frail older people must not be the guinea pigs.”

A Welsh delegate pointed out that attrition was just 10% in Wales due to better selection processes.

Jessica Curtis, a member of the RCN students committee said: “I did my training straight from sixth form. Does that make me any less compassionate and caring than a mature student on my cohort?”

When put to a vote 19.4% were in favour of the resolution while 80.5% were against.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Martyn Butcher

    One of the biggest issues that we face is the way in which pre-reg nurse education is delivered and managed. In the pre-university days, selection of potential candidates was undertaken by a mixture of clinical and educational nurses from schools of nursing based within hospitals. High priority was given to candidates with the perceived attitudes and compassion required of the profession. Now, university selectors are pressurised to ensure places are filled and the Uni maintains a positive income stream; the emphasis appears to be on numbers of applications and the pre-course educational achievement of the potential students (the number of GCSE's and A levels the candidate has) rather than whether they are really suited for the course, or more importantly the profession.

    In addition, in the past all students had to clearly demonstrate (and were assessed on) practical ability throughout their training. Whilst such assessment still exist, there are huge pressures placed on clinical environments to "rubber-stamp" them. I'm sure many clinical assessors have faced the problems encountered when they have tried to "fail" or "refer" students who just don't "cut the mustard".

    The upshot of this is we now all-too-frequently see newly registered nurses nurses with few practical skills and even less confidence in their ability to deliver care in the whirlwind paced healthcare system in which we now operate.Students need support and guidance; invariably it is not their fault that these problems exist, rather it's the system in which education is delivered.

    While I wholeheartedly believe we should be aiming for a degree-based profession, I believe we need to seriously reconsider how that education is provided and by whom. After all, what is more important; how a reference is cited in an essay or whether vulnerable individuals receive the care they so rightly deserve

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  • Heard the one about interviewing of student? "why do you want to take up nursing ?
    well, I really wanted to do Media studies but it was full and then someone said you gets free watch if you apply for nursing.Is it true? Do you really get a watch? True story ----she was accepted but dont know the outcome . Enough said I think. Let us go back to ward based training and find the real nurses who are out there somewhere

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  • Being a second year student nurse I am all to aware of the flaws with in the training system. The 'interview' for my University place consisted of a one to one chat for 5 minutes on a subject of my choice. I chose to talk about natural disasters (purely because they were topical news at that time).I know people who got on the course that talked about eastenders!! There were no questions about care experience. Do I think care experience should be a pre requiseite for entry to a nursing programme? Definately, yes it should. I do not believe this action should offend. It's not saying that those that have not cared cannot care. It would just offer a greater insight into the role. Unfortunately nursing is no longer just about nursing, you cannot help but get drawn into the politics and policies. I am a mature student from a nursing background who has planned on taking this course for many years. However, my lack of faith in the system and the flaws of the programme disrupt my enthusiasm on a weekly basis. I am a conscientious student/person and strive to deliver compassionate informed care. I am in agreement with Mr Butchers comment regarding clinical/practical skills. In this second year of training my cohort has recieved what i consider to be minimal clinical skills teaching. The emphasis is definately on the placements to deliver this teaching. This of course is impacted on by staffing levels and the already increasing time pressure placed on qualified nurses. I am due to go on my final placement of this year on monday and I do not feel confident nor competent that my achievements or lack of them will be recorded as an adequate reflection.

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  • i dont know my exact opinion for this debate. i suppose i agree with both arguements. as a third year student, i have seen several students waste time attempting a degree knowing they dont want to become a nurse and then drop out. People have to be sure that nursing is what they want to do and this can be done through experience as a healthcare assistant on a ward. However, universities have increased the grades as to which you need to get onto a nursing course (2 A's and a B at A level). There a very few students that are able to achieve such a level and very few who achieve a level that want to go work for a year and then go into university. I believe if this was to happen, there would be a slow influx of nurses resulting in a mass shortage of nurses across the UK which will then lead to nursing courses being open to everyone and anyone. Universities have to find a 'middle ground'. They have to take on students who definitely want to become nurses without having to have the experience that is being suggested!

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  • Nursing the topic or the word if any one see they think it as a common or ohh nursing, actually the word nursing means totally a different word no one cant expect what it does. i will tell about my self when i joined to nursing course 1 st year i think i am not suitable for this nursing degree and i disappointed very much totally i am not interested even a 1% also but when i posted for my first clinical experience in 1st year i entered into hospital i saw a registered nurse giving care to the patient i am observing what the nurse is doing she is giving care to on old age man really i say only the nurse is dedicated and she is giving care to that man like her own infant. even i am very fear of seeing blood and blood products, again i has think ed i hate nursing when i saw the blood in hospital settings. only i think one thing if we cant see the blood or patient we cant give care to them and we are doing this thing because for their health only this is a great job. Gods gifted art is giving care to the patients, The nurses we are saving the health of whom just think every student nurse if there is no nurse even a doctor cant give a effective care and vise verse. ever person talent is gifted by god and it should be utilized by us like wise every nurse talent is like a gifted by God it is so only belongs to nurse to take or give good care to the patient.
    So every student nurses those who are coming to field of nursing with enthusiasm at the starting time realize yourself the work your doing is giving good health and happiness to the person and the family u can never get this happiness even you got what you want if u succeed in this you will get a happiness that no one cant give you. just you student nurse just experience yourself the happiness present in give good health to the world.

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