Concern over suitability of proposed nurse career pathways

Five career pathways for nurses set out in a DoH consultation document may not suit the generalist requirements of primary care, nurses have warned.

A consultation on Modernising Nursing Careers published last week, ‘Towards a Framework for Post-Registration Nursing Careers ’, suggests that nurses should ‘major’ in one pathway, moving from ‘novice to expert’.

The five options are children, family and public health; first contact, access and urgent care; supporting long term care; acute and critical care; and mental health and psychosocial care.

But Derbyshire nurse practitioner June Rhodes said: ‘You need an understanding of all these areas to work in the community. Working in general practice you treat long-term conditions, mental health, and you see children every day.’

Ms Rhodes called for a specific career path to be developed for generalist primary care nurses.
Surrey nurse practitioner Julia Billington added: ‘Nurse practitioners pride themselves on being generalists who can work in any situation.’

The consultation also sets out plans to clarify nursing roles. It says there should be a ‘clear relationship between job title, level of practice, contribution and educational attainment’.

Ms Billington said this would help to ensure standards of care were the same across the country.
‘We should all be singing from the same hymn sheet – if a patient sees two different asthma nurses they should get the same advice.’

Clear standards for practising at advanced levels would also help nurses to claim the level of pay they were entitled to for their level of training, she said. She urged nurses to respond to the plans.

The consultation says further work is needed to determine whether the specialist nursing qualifications are the most appropriate model for community nursing specialties.

Chief nursing officer Chris Beasley said the consultation should be considered in tandem with the NMC’s review of pre-registration education.

The consultation closes on 15 February 2008.

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