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Enhancing dermatology nursing education in Scotland and Ireland: a multifaceted approach

07 December 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 22


The purpose of the National Dermatology Improvement Project was to identify the educational requirements of dermatology nurses and understand factors impacting the uptake of education for nurses. An educational needs analysis was performed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of current and future educational provision for all levels of nursing staff. Data were collected from department managers using questionnaires and interviews, and focus groups were held with nursing staff in bands 2–7. The majority of participants felt there was an overall lack of dermatology education, and that most of what was available was peer led and experiential. A number of barriers to the uptake of education were also identified, such as a lack of time, opportunity and motivation. These findings support the need for a nationally coordinated programme of dermatology education with formal and informal education provided for all levels of dermatology nursing staff.

The demand for dermatology services within the UK has seen a steady increase. There are around 16 700 new melanoma skin cancer cases diagnosed every year in the UK. Combined incidence rates have more than doubled (140%) since the early 1990s with a 9% increase predicted between 2023–2025 and 2038–2040 (Cancer Research UK, 2023). In addition to escalating rates of skin cancer, patients present with an assortment of complex skin conditions (British Dermatological Nursing Group, 2022). Eedy (2015) asserted that the scarcity of specialist doctors has necessitated the development of a more suitably trained, skilled and adaptable workforce. One strategy to realise this is to enhance the role of dermatology nursing staff to ensure their knowledge, skills and experience are fully exploited (Scottish Government, 2016). Ireland's Department of Health (2020) has posited that nurses can be bolstered to offer advanced services to decrease waiting times and enhance integration of specialties. Nevertheless, they must be educated and supported to deliver the requisite dermatology care for now and the future. This article delves into the findings of an educational needs assessment conducted across Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the adjacent counties of the Republic of Ireland, which have been used to foster the development of education for dermatology nursing staff, ensuring relevance, appropriateness and accessibility.

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