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Nursing careers - looking to the future

Continuing the topic of recruitment, Donna Davenport is looking for creative ways of attracting "the right people" into nursing, and reflects on her own experience and her good fortune in having outstanding mentors to guide her

Two weeks ago Una Adderley discussed the issues affecting future recruitment into nursing and how we might encourage "young nightingales" into the profession (My Week - Where are the young nightingales). She raised some of the issues affecting nurse recruitment and the way young people may view this as a career. I agree that many will view nursing as hard work, long hours with very little reward, but what about the positive aspects of nursing?

Certainly within primary care there are immense opportunities once qualified, but often students are exposed to very little community experience and even less in general practice to make those career choices that are so crucial in addressing the recruitment and retention issues facing primary care. This needs to change.

We know that we have an aging community nurse workforce and preregistration training numbers are declining, so we need to be creative in ways of attracting new blood into the profession. However, whether young recruits or more mature we need to attract the "right people for the right reasons". Some of our healthcare assistants have gone into nurse training having experienced nursing in primary care. This has been a great opportunity for them to experience healthcare firsthand and ultimately make their career choices.

The government needs to invest in retaining nurses once qualified. I was dismayed this week to chat to a community psychiatric nurse colleague who has two RMN students about to qualify and no jobs for them. Having been their mentor she knows that they have the skills and abilities that are so desperately needed in mental health. What a waste of taxpayers' money if we lose them because there has been no workforce development to ensure we retain them after qualifying.

I am sure there are many other examples of this across the country as we all feel the effects of the financial pressures and the inevitable vacancy freezes as a result, putting more pressure on already overstretched staff.

The NMC's current review of prereg nurse education has found that training needs to be modernised to meet the changing needs of healthcare provision. But what does this mean?

The consultation asked what nursing education should look like in the future, exploring principles such as whether nurses should be generalists or specialists, if they should be graduates, and how much of their training should be conducted in the community. It also looked at how new nurses should be supported after they first qualify.

Throughout my career I have been fortunate enough to be supported and encouraged by many outstanding "mentors". I consider this to be an essential component for all healthcare professionals in developing roles and yet we have a shortage of experienced mentors. These are complex questions with no easy answers but it is essential that as nurses you have your say to influence the future direction of nurse training.

Having recently changed direction in my own career, from an "expert" practice nurse facilitator in a primary care trust to a "novice" lecturer within a HEI, I will need to reflect on my own learning to access support, training and CPD opportunities to support my new role. One thing is for sure, I would not have been given this opportunity had it not been for my wealth of experience within the NHS. In my previous roles as well as my clinical expertise I have been able to gain experience and skills in management, leadership, mentorship, facilitation, and so on. How many other professions give you such a wealth of experience and development opportunities?

I hope that within my new role I will be able to influence the future direction of nurse training both pre- and postregistration to develop a workforce fit for the future. Looking to the future, when I am older and perhaps suffering from a long-term condition, I want to know that the people caring for me will have the right knowledge and skills to provide high-quality care.


NMC - Nurse training to undergo modern makeover

NHS Careers