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Trust plans to reverse trend with new nursing school


A new hospital-based school of nursing – the first for nearly 20 years – could be set up in Birmingham by 2011.

The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is in preliminary negotiations with the government, NHS West Midlands, Birmingham University and the NMC over the possibility of establishing its own school of nursing.

Mandie Sunderland, chief nurse at the trust, told Nursing Times that the organisation was keen to take its first intake of student nurses in 2011, the year nursing moves to an all-degree entry-level profession.

‘Although the discussions are exploratory at this stage, this is something that we wish to move on more quickly,’ she said. ‘We hope to be the first hospital in the UK to bring nurse education back in-house.’

Hospital-based nursing schools were abolished in 1986 when the then Conservative government launched Project 2000 – developed by the NMC’s predecessor the UKCC – and moved nurse education into universities and other higher education institutions.

The aim of the project was to change nurse education from a system that merely responded to NHS workforce requirements to one that would expose its students to the effects of mainstream higher education – though at the time many nurses questioned whether this was necessary.

As well as reversing this policy on pre-registration training, Heart of England wants to introduce several other post-registration initiatives as part of developing a brand image for its nursing staff.

The trust also has plans to launch a faculty of nursing later this year which will offer specialist post-registration courses in renal and infectious disease specialties.

And it aims in future to try and establish a ‘finishing school’ for newly-qualified nurses. This would involve a year-long programme that would be offered to 50 new nurses each year, with the aim of giving them intensive mentorship and preceptorship, and ward management training.

Ms Sunderland said that nurses from around the country would be able to apply to the programme and that if they completed it successfully they would be guaranteed a job at the trust.

‘We want to make sure newly qualified nurses are fit for nursing,’ she said.


Readers' comments (10)

  • I think this is an excellent idea. I am a clinical nurse specialist at a large teaching hospital and we see students that cannot take a blood pressure or know the significance of any reading in their 3rd year. Students have no concept of what we are trying to achieve on the wards, have no initiative to learn even though I have devised a 'learning opportunity list' for them to follow whilst on our busy and interesting head and neck cancer ward. The curriculum has gone back to pre modular training In 1970's and early1980's, that was meant to provide a basis of a new systematic nurse training which allowed all the students to study the same specialty or general area at the same time and then work in that area. Students now seem to learn something in college, for instance about surgery and then go to a medical ward or random placement, get very little teaching about cancer and then not have any placement of relevance. Many 3rd years' have no concept of cancer care by the time we meet them. Anything more experientially based will ba excellent. I feel that nurse educators are too far from the practical and real life situations on the ward and base learning around theory which is then not put it into practise.Bring more on ideas like this!

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  • Whilst I am reasonably indifferent to where nurse education takes place and I also don't see any real benefit in engaging in a Practice vs University debate I feel I have to respond to the above comment.

    I would like to ask the nurse consultant how they think students are getting to the 3rd year of a course without being able to take a manual blood pressure when they should have been assessed IN PRATCICE at this skill in the first two years of the course.

    It is easy to blame universities for the percieved lack of knowledge and ability of some students and I would agree that there are elements of providing students with university strudent status has brought its downsides.
    However at the university at which I teach (whilst working with the most up to date and passionate nurses I have ever encountered) far more students fail and withdraw form the course due their exams and assignment work than ever fail in practice. It is not uncommon to find student failing all academic work in a year but poassing all practice.

    I would remind all readers that 50 % of pre reg nurse education takes place and is assessed in practice. It is not the complete domain of the crusty out of date Lecturer as to who progresses through the course.

    I am all in favour of looking at better ways of training nurses but until the fundamental issues of recruitment criteria and practice mentorship are addressed (which who know perhaps this Trusts idea might) students will progress through their training without being adequately developed or assessed.

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  • Hooray, an excellent idea. Combining the education needed with the practical skills required is how good nurses are found. We see students at the end of their training with excellent knowledge but little idea as to what being a nurse is all about. There are already a generation or two of nurses out there who do not have the 'feel' for the job though the clinical knowledge is all there. Lets start breeding those vocational nurses again and I'm sure a rise in standards would be the result.

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  • I'm a student nurse and in favour of any measure which puts clinical work at the heart of nurse training. Universities are too detached from practice, and neither can they expect the over stretched wards to do all the bits they can't teach us. They are often relying on band 5 nurses with 8 patients each to teach their students. By contrast older colleagues tell me of the pride and loyalty they felt in being trained in their hospital's old nursing school. How fantastic if Birmingham could replicate that in my generation of students. Good luck to them I reckon!

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  • I think this is a fantastic idea and have no doubt that the Trust will achieve its goal. bringing together the theorectical knowledge and the practical skills of being a nurse will result in newly qualified nurses being equipped to meet the demands of the role. This will result in improved standards and quality care delivered by nurses who have pride in the hospital they trained in.

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  • I am a newly qualified nurse and think this is an excellent idea! I have heard wonderous stories about how much people learnt training inside a hospital and think that nurse training should be more pratical. i agree with the notion of increasing nursing professional status, making practice evidence based and the need to increase the academic abilities of nurses to do this, however, i also agree with the above comments that a subject is taught at university, but the practice placment doesnt reflect what is taught. i feel now, that after 3 years of training, i should have a sound understnding of what being a nurse is bout and feel comfortable and competent within a band 5 post, however, i feel rather ill equipt and feel let down by my university and teaching NHS Trust. Modules taught and practice placements arent in the same feild; theory is not put into practice; too many students on each placement area sharing the same mentors, reducing learning opportunities; too much academic paper work/assigments reduce the time that should be spent researching matters that you come across in daily cinical practice etc. A change in nurse training is overdue, I hope this new program goes ahead and is sucessful, thus reducing the number of newly qualifieds feeling like i do and increasing the quality of patient care!

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  • At last some common sense - nursing is essentially a practical skill. I had a student from child branch recently who had a pass / fail assessment on clinical skills in her first year - great idea until you realises that the skills were all related to adult patients, she completed adult BLS, adult cardiovascular observations etc etc. Anyone who is a children's nurse will recognise that there are very different skills when caring for babies, young children and adolescent. Indeed, the skillls vary between these age groups.
    The comment made about assessing students IN PRACTICE, whlst a valid comment, IN PRACTICE have more restrictions than the Universities due to time, staffing, availability of the right staff who are capable of mentoring students, oh and we have patients to care for!!
    Bring back the Clinical Tutors who are ward based and liaise with practice placements and universities, who can offer support at Ward level to the student and staff, who can actually roll up theuir sleeves and work with a student at ward level!

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  • I agree with some of the above comments; I don't believe for one minute that it matters wether a registered nurse has a degree or a diploma. Neither measure the 'soft' elements of nursing.
    I have a diploma, and have not suffered because of it. Why? becasue I had truly amazing mentors during my practice placements. I know training is always changing... half of my training was practice based (2,500 hrs) 10 years ago. And no, not all my mentors got it right... But by and large I had a solid clinical base to my training, the academic side was managed by a university, and they did a decent job. And at the end of the day, when you qualify, lets remember, you don't emerge a fully fledged butterfy of a nurse; we learn new things EVERY DAY. new skills, knowledge etc.

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  • When I trained (I qualified in January 1986) there were being known as clinical tutors, or link tutors, whose role was to direct and assess the learner's practical experience and ability. It was quite a faux pas, in my opinion, that they disappeared from the wards. I am not sure if there is supposed to be an analogous role in the current uni- based training, as I am now a Practice Nurse and have not been on the wards for some years. However I would like to say that I learned so much from my clinical tutors in my three years, that I am sure their most valuable contribution would be sorely missed.

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  • This is a dreaful idea. Rather than seeing that nursing courses dont bother to teach these skills and waste time teaching insignificant or redundant ideals OR focusing on the fact that clever technically minded students are told they are there to work on clinical placments or used as cheap pairs of hands, you;ve all fallen into the same trap.

    graudates of nursing in every other country in the world are ready when they qualify in terms of recieving the correct clinical skills and knowledge, but considering we think inserting a cannula is an 'extended skill' it is any wonder nurses feel unprepared when they qualify.

    studentsare not to blame. it is the course, the ancient mindset of nurses such as the above posters and the authr of this article that think that clinical knowledge is something to be tacked ontot he end of what is largely a gruelling and largely unenjoyablecourse taught either by charlatans or dinosaurs.

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