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'Is segregation of nursing branches a good thing?'


I have started to question whether splitting up nursing into four branches is a good idea.

I have been thinking recently about how nursing is separated into the four branches; adult, child, mental health and learning disabilities and I started to question whether this means that not all nurses are able to cater for patients with a combination of conditions.

It seems like common sense to me that anybody can have an acute illness regardless of any mental health problems or learning disabilities, therefore surely all nurses need to be equipped with the skills to look after all types of patients that may come through the door.

I understand that it is important to have the four branches as it allows nurses to be trained in a such a way that they can provide care that is specialised and tailored to their specific patient group. However I think that more shared learning between the branches would be of huge benefit to all healthcare professionals.

My first placement as a student nurse will be a two week out of branch experience which could be in mental health, learning disabilities or child nursing.

I think this is a brilliant idea as it allows you to gain a bit of an insight into the needs mental health and learning disabilities clients, but is two weeks really long enough to say you understand how to look after the complex needs of somebody with more than just an acute illness?

I think it is important that nurses do all they can to ensure that people with a learning disability or a mental health condition are not stigmatised and are afforded the same high quality care and treatment as anybody else.

Provided that they are not a danger to themselves or to others I can see no reason why they should not be nursed alongside everybody else in a hospital setting if they have been admitted for treatment of an acute illness.

I look forward to learning a lot on my out of branch experiences and hope that it will benefit my practice and equip me with the skills to provide an excellent level of nursing care to anybody I have the privilege to provide treatment for.

Ashley Needham is a student nurse at De Montfort University in Leicester.


Readers' comments (2)

  • I am doing adult nursing. in our first year we do seven weeks placement at a time plus a split placement of 3 wks in learning dis and 3 in another area such as infection control. I think that it would be better to have one general nurse training encompassing a little of each area. Then after qualifying you could specialise. This way you would have a more rounded training.

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  • Little One

    My mother trained in the 'good old days' when you didn't get split into branches, and you chose where to specialise after qualifying. I think this is a much better way of training as you gain a thorough knowledge of learning disabilities, mental health, children and adult nursing before choosing which area you would like to specialise in and can also use the knowledge from training on the wards.

    More and more patients with mental health problems and learning disablities will be coming on to adult nursing wards with physical disabilities and we need a solid grounding as adult nurses, in these areas to be able to holistically care for our patients. I think that it also allows us to fully decide which area of Nursing we would like to go into upon qualifying.

    I applied for Children's Nursing, gained a place, and then decided that I didn't want to do Children's Nursing and gained a place on an Adult Nursing course instead. I loved learning about mental health and would love to work in a dual speciality area and it is a shame more University's do not offer this sort of qualification.

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