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Nurses to be trained to degree standard

Future nurses will undergo three or four years of training to be educated to degree level under new plans announced by the government.

Currently, nurses receive a diploma after two or three years - but this will change from 2013.

The new move is a direct result of shifts in the way nurses now work, including handling more advanced levels of practice, prescribing and working in specialist disease areas, such as diabetes.

Nursing courses will match up to new a set of standards set out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and will include more practical experience outside of hospitals.

Current training involves a combination of theoretical and practical work but the new standards, which are open to consultation, will include a focus on students gaining experience in community health teams.

Trainees will also shadow school health nurses and district nurses who work with people in their own homes.

Health minister Ann Keen, said: "Nurses are the largest single profession within the health service, and are critical to the delivery of high-quality healthcare.

"By bringing in degree-level registration we can ensure new nurses have the best possible start to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Degree-level education will provide new nurses with the decision-making skills they need to make high-level judgments in the transformed NHS.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I am a staff nurse in one of the busiest hospitals here in London that specialises in transplants. I was surprised how some people here ridicule the decision to upgrade nursing to degree standard. I trained in the Philippines where our study of nursing is actually only for degrees which take us 4 years of study and then we have to do another 6 months of review post graduation to take the licensure examination. Apparently, just like in the US system, we need to have a license in order to practice nursing and that we also need to finish 4 years of nursing study. It doesn't mean that a degree holder nurse is lesser than a diploma nurse because nursing is an art as well as science. Doctors and other medical team members actually have a degree, so why shouldn't nurses have a degree as well in the UK? That's really interesting, especially when nurses are the ones who are always with the patients looking after them. The fact that nursing is a 4 years in our country and it's a difficult subject to study for us, it means that only those people who desire to become a nurse will be really motivated to pursue it" - HS, London

"Nursing is about a high standard of care for others provided from knowledge, understanding and delivery. No amount of theory without putting this into practice by hands on experience will make a good nurse. One has to put oneself in the position of a patient to recognise the the effects of care.
Nursing knowledge needs to be sound treatment needs to be evidence based but judging quality and its effectiveness is immeasurable that comes from within not taught. Nurse qualification should be aimed at a combination of a number of qualities if we are to change the medical culture that has led
to nursing as it is and where we are today" - V Henry, London

"I am a nursing degree student who has just started training in September. I opted for the degree because of nursing becoming an all-graduate profession and advice that I would find it harder to get a job/progress in my job with a diploma. I do receive a bursary while doing the degree, and for me it is almost as much as the diploma students receive as I have 3 dependents. However, it is means tested so will impact on those who have had another career first, are financially secure and wish to change to a nursing career" - Lisa Iddon, Coventry

"What appears to have been completely glossed over in the euphoria is that the present Diploma system provides bursaries to training nursing which allows people to change careers. The degree system will naturally exclude older people with families and any other person who cannot afford to build up the debt a degree incurs. I forsee nursing shortages" - M Edmans, Witham

"I think I would still be an auxiliary nurse if it meant having to do a degree to become a registered nurse. When I trained we had the option of becoming 'a bedside nurse' (SEN) or a 'management' nurse (SRN). As I wanted to spend my time with the patients I opted for SEN training. By the time I did my training I already had 2 children and although I know lots of people do a degree combined with a family, I couldn't have coped. Ten years after qualifying as SEN we weren't left with much choice but to convert, so I did a dual/flexi conversion course and upgraded my SEN to RGN and upgraded my DEN (District Enrolled Nurse) to DN. A couple of years later I did my nurse prescribers course and still not even a diploma
to my name. After two of my nursing sister colleagues retired on ill-health grounds, I covered both posts for two years but couldn't have the post full time when it became vacant as I didn't have a degree. I have been in nursing since 1974 and don't think I would have been any better with a degree, I just would have been able to apply for a sisters post that I had
already been doing without one" - Pat Allen