Universities across the UK are being invited to ‘develop and map’ their community nursing specialist qualification programmes in line with new standards set by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI).
Following a 12-month development process and a consultation earlier this year, the QNI has now published six ‘field-specific’ standards for general practice nursing, adult social care nursing, community children’s nursing, community mental health nursing, district nursing and inclusion health nursing.
They are designed to be used by higher education institutes (HEIs) offering the specialist practitioner qualification (SPQ) for these groups of community nurses and aim to ‘build on’ the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s own SPQ standards published last year.
On Friday, the QNI began inviting all HEIs in the UK to start the endorsement process for courses beginning in 2023 and 2024.
Endorsed programmes using the new standards will be listed on the QNI website and successful students will receive QNI certifications.
According to the QNI, the standards have been built around the ‘four pillars of advanced practice’ and will assist with ‘demonstrating the advanced level of practice at which nurses are being prepared to work in these roles’.
In preparation for the publication of these standards, the QNI has worked with representatives from higher education and other institutes, as well as expert nurses from all four countries of the UK.
Additionally, the QNI opened a public consultation on the standards in February of this year to seek the views of nurses in the community.
The independent development of the QNI’s field specific standards comes after the NMC published its own standards for SPQs in 2022.
Concerned about the generic nature of the NMC standards, the QNI began work to create its own field-specific standards.
These initial six are to be followed by a further three field-specific standards in health and justice nursing, community learning disability nursing, and community palliative and end of life care nursing; and will be published later this year.
QNI chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman said the new standards brought ‘real benefits to nurses, employers and patients’ by providing clear educational pathways into community nursing.
‘Individual nurses will have access to clearly articulated educational pathways based on standards which are consistently applied by HEIs for their field of practice,’ she said.
‘This will have a wider benefit in terms of staff development, recruitment and retention for employers across the system.’
Dr Oldman added that nurses graduating from courses endorsed by the QNI would have the skills and knowledge to ‘enable them to practice and to lead teams at an advanced level, improving care for patients, families and residents with complex needs in community settings.’