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Academic training 'does not affect quality of nursing care'

The move to degree-level registration does not affect a nurse's ability or desire to offer compassionate or high quality care, an independent commission has found.

With all pre-registration nursing education in the UK moving to degree level, the Willis Commission on Nursing Education Commission has seen no evidence to support the view that graduate nurses are “too posh to wash”.

It also said it is important to “dispel the myth that better educated nurses are less able to care”.

However, interim findings did note health service employers and universities need to work in closer partnership if they are to ensure nursing students are better prepared and supported in their practical learning experiences.

By September 2013, the minimum academic level for pre-registration nursing education in the UK will be a bachelor's degree. 

“The public needs to know what it can expect of registered nurses, and what degree-level registration means,” said Lord Willis chair of the commission, which is hosted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

“We need to get the emphasis right and select candidates who have all the qualities that good nurses need, working with head, hands and heart. And we need to make sure we have good patient and public involvement in the development, delivery and review of nursing education.”

In its interim report, commission has also pointed out the need for a national clinical nursing structure to provide clarity about the future roles and responsibilities of graduate nurses, in the context of the multidisciplinary health and social care team.

Lord Willis of Knaresborough has been charged with leading an investigation on finding out the essential features of pre-registration nursing education in the UK and the support required for newly qualified practitioners “to create and maintain a workforce of competent, compassionate nurses fit to deliver future health and social care services”.

The commission's final report is expected to be published towards the end of 2012.

Do you agree with the commission's findings?