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Nursing course entry requirements could become more ‘inclusive’ under proposals

Nursing course entry requirements could become more ‘inclusive’ under proposals

The NMC is asking its Council to approve a consultation on proposed updates to its pre-registration education standards, including more ‘inclusive’ entry requirements for nursing programmes.

The changes have been put forward because the NMC no longer needs to follow EU Directive education requirements – on factors such as student selection, length of course, and theory and practice learning hours – after Britain left the EU in January 2020.

The NMC has suggested allowing approved education institutions to set their own entry criteria for programmes rather than following the restrictions set out in the EU Directive.

For example, the EU Directive requires applicants to have undertaken at least 10 years of ‘general education’ prior to entry to pre-registration adult nursing programmes.

However, the NMC’s nursing standards development group – which has expert stakeholder representation from each UK country – concluded the concept of ‘general education’ was ‘arbitrary, open to interpretation and can mean different things in different locations’.

They suggested: ‘Removing this would widen participation to those from excluded groups, such as those from travelling communities and refugees.’

The changes proposed to the pre-registration standards, which the Council will consider for consultation in a meeting on 26 May, also include:

  • Increasing the flexibility regarding the use of simulation, with the potential to explore increasing simulated practice learning using a range of modalities, up to 600 hours, for nursing only.
  • Prescription of placement settings, and whether these could be retained, modernised or removed for nursing and midwifery.
  • Exploring specific areas where there is an appetite for more radical change, where there are currently evidence gaps and a lack of consensus.
  • Removing the EU Directive knowledge and skills requirements from within the programme standards, where these are now incorporated in NMC standards of proficiency for pre-registration nursing and midwifery.

In November 2021, the NMC voted to double the maximum number of simulated learning hours that students can undertake as part of their clinical practice requirements from 300 hours to 600 hours, which remain at least until the NMC updates its education standards permanently.

It also follows two reports commissioned by the NMC and published on its website last year. One by Harrow Consulting looked at the impact of the EU directive requirements on nursing and midwifery education, while consultancy Traverse sought the views of stakeholders across the UK.

From the reports, the NMC found ‘appetite for flexibility’ around improved simulation, widening access to nursing and midwifery education, and the need to modernise the language of the EU directive in relation to knowledge and skills requirements for both nursing and midwifery.

Also at meeting on 26 May, the Council will be asked to approve new and updated post-registration community standards, and a consultation on proposed changes to the NMC’s English language requirements.

The NMC also confirmed to Nursing in Practice last month that it will explore whether to regulate advanced practice later this year.

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