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The big question: does a vision of a past “golden age” hinder nurse education?


A new study recently published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing warns a rose-tinted view of a “golden era” of nurse training is damaging efforts to tackle problems facing the profession today.

Study author Karen Gillett, a lecturer in adult nursing at King’s College London, found nostalgic descriptions of nurse education published in national newspapers offer a “sanitised” version of the past and risk creating unhelpful divisions between new and more experienced nursing staff.

She looked at British national newspapers that featured articles on nurse education from January 1999 to July 2012 for her review.

The majority of articles – 76% – took a negative view of the increased academic level of nurse education, often complaining nurses were no longer “taught to care” and would benefit from more practical, vocational training on the wards.

Do we focus too much on how nurse education used to be?


Readers' comments (2)

  • I qualified in the 1970s and my nursing education had changed little since my mother's. OK, they didn't use starch and turpentine enemas any more the dressing packs were largely disposable, but the dressings technique was similar and so were the basic nursing techniques.

    Theoretically, we were taught the same 'flat earth' ideas of previous generations. Who knew that the 1970s were a time of real fundamental research in nursing? Not our tutors and not us students!

    What was good? The idea of individual responsibility was prominent, despite Menzies. We knew we were being watched and judged by our seniors and each other, so we worked hard to get our patients settled and comfortable. It was a more personalised approach than the 'I don't know - I wasn't on duty yesterday' line one hears so often from colleagues today. If we didn't know what was going on and due to happen to our patients, it was our job to bloody well find out before night sister or the ward sister noticed!

    I would have loved to do a nursing degree course and have enjoyed my subsequent post registration degrees. They contribute to my practice.

    It really is better today, but if there's a fault it's a matter of attitude, not education as such.

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  • Forester | 2-Jun-2014 9:39 pm

    Agree, this I wasn't on yesterday so don't know attitude is down to individuals not nurse education. We can always ask questions that's what makes us human, effective handovers are paramount. Nursing has evolved, slowly, will continue to evolve and hopefully continue to improve. It is our job to ensure that we make the best of whatever opportunities present themselves to keep abreast of changes wherever possible within the specialities within which we work and across the board. So long as we have a firm foundation we can build on it with experience.

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