The NMC has voted to double the maximum number of simulated learning hours that students at some universities can undertake as part of their clinical practice requirements.
The changes, agreed at an NMC council meeting last week, will increase the time students are permitted to spend on simulated activities from 300 hours to 600 hours, but only at universities that prove they have the ‘capacity and capability to do’.
These simulated hours – for activities such as using manikins and online practice learning – will count towards the 2,300 clinical practice hours nursing students are required to complete.
Universities must seek NMC approval if they want to double their allowance to 600 hours. They need to show they have the ‘appropriate resources and infrastructure to implement it effectively and safely’ as an alternative to clinical practice, and how they will evaluate the change.
The standards will remain in effect at least until the NMC finished its work on modernising its education standards and introduces new permanent standards. This was launched following the UK departure from the EU last year, which means the NMC does not have to follow EU rules.
The NMC first allowed students to replace 300 clinical practice hours with simulation in February 2021, as part of part of a series of recovery standards introduced in response to Covid-19.
Professor Geraldine Walters, NMC executive director of professional practice, said: ‘I’m pleased that the council have agreed for the existing recovery standards to remain in place while we consider the permanent changes we might make to our education standards following the departure of the UK from the EU.
‘These, and the additional discretionary standard, will allow approved education institutions more flexibility to explore and evaluate new and innovative approaches to nursing education,’ she added.