Nurse training needs radical overhaul, says top academic

Nursing education needs a massive shake-up if there is to be any chance of more care being carried out in the community, according to Professor Dame Jill Macleod Clark, chair of the council of deans for nursing.

Dame Jill Macleod
Dame Jill Macleod

Dame Jill launched a scathing attack on the current education curriculum, at the Future of Nursing conference, held in London last month.

She said nursing currently had no career framework or profiles, meaning that a graduate nurse entering the profession had no idea how to go about becoming a consultant nurse.

'It currently just happens through a combination of luck, opportunity and hard graft.'

Dame Jill said the DoH's Modernising Nursing Careers initiative needed to 'bite the bullet' and make wide-ranging changes, including making nursing a degree-entry profession. Students should learn about prescribing, referrals, primary care, working in multidisciplinary teams and clinical assessment.

The profession needed to ensure nurses became the dominant and principal carers and commissioners in six key domains - access, urgent care, public health, long-term conditions, older people and end-of-life care.

'We should be autonomous and leading care in these domains and implementing clear and flexible career pathways,' Dame Jill said.

'Nursing is no longer a generic profession and the skills needed in public health are quite different to those needed in first contact care.'

The profession should also develop its own workforce estimates. 'How many nurse consultants and nurse practitioners do we need in the future and why are we looking to others to decide this?' she asked.

Dame Jill told Independent Nurse that such work should be overseen by an academy of nursing because the RCN was essentially a trade union and nursing had no body similar to the medical royal colleges.

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