RCN general secretary Janet Davies has said that there is no widespread desire among nurses to become doctors following Jeremy Hunt’s proposal for a fast-track conversion course.
The health secretary asked the RCN along with the NMC, General Medical Council, and Health Education England to review whether a “smooth career path” should be developed for “the small number of advanced nurse practitioners who wish to become doctors”.
“They are experienced nurses and the skills and experience they have should be properly taken into account if they wish to change their career and become doctors,” he said at the NHS Providers conference on 30 November.
In response, Ms Davies told a forum on the future of general practice: “I’d just like to reassure you all, there is no wish from nurses to become doctors.
“Advanced nurse practitioners believe they are nurses with enhanced skills that provide a very different intervention,” she said. “Some of those interventions might be the same as some of the interventions that doctors do.
“It doesn’t mean doctors and nurses are interchangeable. It doesn’t mean they want to be doctors. It is very different, and I just want to make sure you understand that before you get any missives that we are going to do any sort of conversion course.”
The RCN leader also called for more opportunities for doctors and nurses to train together in primary care at postgraduate level, and for practices to help develop the career framework for nurses to be trained at all levels within general practice. She also said that the new nursing apprenticeship programme must allow for places based in primary care.
Profession “under strain”
Londonwide LMC chief executive Dr Michelle Drage added: “I don’t think you can put a filter paper between GPs’ needs and GP nurses’ needs at the moment. I don’t think you can draw any conclusion, other than both parts of the professional system are under great strain.
“And, the mistake is to replace GPs with a nurse. Nurses don’t want to be GPs. It’s a different specialism, and it connects perfectly with general practice,” she told delegates at the conference.