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Is our nurse training fit for purpose?


While learning disability student editor, Liv Lindsay-Gould, feels prepared to graduate and be a learning disability nurse, she recognises gaps in her own training that could be filled with a longer, broader curriculum

I believe that holism and person-centeredness should be central to modern day nursing practice, as before we treat an illness, surely first we must care for the person.

So I have decided to ask the risky question, does our nurse training provide us with the necessary skills to provide this care?

Having reached the final stage in my student nursing career, I have visited many different placements, seen different specialisms and spoken to many patients and professionals alike. I have been studying at York University where your first year focusses on all fields of practice in theory and on placement following this, the final two years of your nurse training are spent within your chosen field of practice.

This ensures that when you qualify you are prepared for the environments in which you might be working. This particular approach has broadened my understanding of different fields of practice and improved my skill set, giving me more confidence going into my preceptorship.

“It is obvious that different fields of practice are more developed in certain areas”

As nurses we all qualify with the same basic skill sets itemised in our practice portfolios but it is obvious that different fields of practice are more developed in certain areas.

For example, the prospect of working in a general nursing enviornoment for many learning disability nurses could be daunting as the anatomy and physiology aspects of our training will be far less advanced as our time is spent learning different knowledge and skills. Yet, maintaining good physical heath is an essential part of being a registered nurse.

Communicating with people with a learning disability for adult nurses within an acute setting can also be a challenge as there is no training for them on augmented communication methods.

“I believe that patient care would benefit from nurses having a broader experience”

Obviously this is a broad example and doesn’t apply to everyone, however having experienced situations like this myself in both medical wards in hospital settings and within forensic hospitals it appears to be a common issue that occurs within all fields of practice and I believe that patient care would benefit from nurses having a broader experience.

Following a discussion with a nurse in New Zealand, I learnt that over there all nurses train generally for three years, after this, if a nurse wants to specialise in working within child, learning disability or mental health settings they would do an add-on course.

With only a couple of months left, the idea of a longer nursing course immediately makes me want to reach for the chocolate hobnobs… however, the nurse in me knows that if we want nurses who are truly committed to person-centred, holistic care, able to treat everyone as an individual, then our greatest chance of that happening would be a longer and broader training programme.


Readers' comments (3)

  • What's up can't you get a proper job?

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  • Please disregard the last comment from the Shame on you person...However, I do not feel that three years of General orientated training then a add-on course would be advantageous for clients or staff. There are relatively few RMLD posts as they are replaced by NVQ 3/4 staff. In in the future, there will also be fewer RGN, staff as associate nurses will be employed.

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  • I think this is important because my daughter was passed from nurse to nurse until we saw a nurse who understood her condition and now she's well again. Would holistic learning helped her? Remember the patient will benefit from this.

    To me, dealing with the person holistically also means showing compassion and that person knowing that you care.

    How does new research and ideas get into nursing? How long does this take? What should all nurses learn? How should augmented communication methods get into nurse's courses? I sometimes think that these are not in training because no one has thought about this.

    Why don't you research these communication methods and speak to other nurses and then find these methods and ways to teach them?

    Thank you for mentioning this.


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