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Is nursing becoming too academic?


We all know that compassion, patience, kindness and care are just some of the traits that make a good nurse.

Jane Cummings even identifies compassion, care, commitment, courage, competence and comportment as primary traits that all nurses should have. But can these qualities be taught in a lecture theatre?

Degree training, or the need for good academic skills, does not appear to be mentioned in the new healthcare reform. Competence is as close as it comes, but being a competent nurse does not mean you need to be clever in the classroom, does it?

Yet degree training is becoming mandatory for all nurses in the UK. By making all nurses have a degree, is the profession in danger of losing it’s core values, such as the those mentioned by Jane Cummings? Is it possible that NHS nurses will become “too posh to wash”?

I have been made to feel slightly uncomfortable by other nurses when I have told them I am studying for a degree. They often retort, “didn’t need a degree in my day, plenty of good nurses aren’t academic”. It’s almost as though they are angry at the idea of a nursing degree and take it out on students who are studying for one.

Other student nurses I know have also been made to feel the same way. It’s almost as though we aren’t part of the team because we are too clever and not old school enough. Perhaps that is what the NHS needs to embrace, the “modern nurse”? I don’t think we can be stuck in the past when it comes to healthcare and nursing. After all, policies and guidelines change and evolve on a daily basis, and so should we as nurses, embracing modern practice.

Is nursing becoming too academic? Let us know your thoughts.


Mikey Whitehead



Readers' comments (2)

  • I think it's a shame that sometimes amazing but less academic student nurses do not get through the course because academia and writing is not something they enjoy etc..

    I also think that the constant "too academic to care" spiel is equally as unfair.

    Being academic does not make a person less compassionate, less kind or less caring or be less willing to provide essential care. Just as not being able to write an academic essay does not make another person less intelligent,or less able to manage complex care.

    Why can't we just embrace that we are all different and have different skills and use them together to provide better quality care? It frustrates me that education continues to be an excuse for division and rift amongst nurses and students.

    What a degree should mean is that Nursing is on a level with many other health professions. Why are we so adamant to sell ourselves short? We work really really hard, learning the theory 50% of our time and putting that learning into practice the other 50%...why should we not have a degree. Professions evolve to meet the needs of society. The needs of patients are different today than they were 30 years ago and than they will be in 20 years. We are being educated and trained to meet those needs and not to be stuck in the past...let's not forget that review after review after review suggests that there are no shortcomings in current nursing education. Perhaps the shortcomings in care are more cultural and intrinsic.

    Ps. I think communication is the 6th C but perhaps comportment should be the 7th :-)

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  • I don't believe nursing is becoming too academic! In our University, there are many fundamental values of essential care being instilled in all of us before we attend our first placement! I think by studying a degree course, it gives us the chance to learn the theory, the why, the how and evaluate nursing practice in great depth. Surely this would make us better nurses? Personally I don't feel any of us are ''too posh to wash'' but I can understand why some people would think that. We are taught to go on to our placement and question why things are done a certain way, know why it's done that way, and then look for ways to improve things through reflection and evaluation. Without studying for a degree, we wouldn't have the knowledge to move forward in nursing practice and we wouldn't be knowledgeable enough to conduct research and find ways to improve nursing. As a nurse you should be compassionate, caring and have the drive to want to make a difference to peoples lives. If you don't feel that way then maybe you're just enrolled on the wrong course not the wrong type of qualification.

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