Evaluating the NMC proficiencies framework: perspectives of students and educators 5 years on
It is now half a decade since the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) launched Future Nurse: Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses. Applicable nationally, this proficiencies framework dictates specific elements of nursing praxis that all pre-registrants must achieve in order to qualify as registered nurses, before going on to gain employment in either the NHS or adjacent healthcare providers. The NMC proficiencies framework is subdivided into seven proficiencies and two annexes, each of which contains multiple specific criteria detailing the skillset pre-registrants must demonstrate, in order to be signed off by a qualified educator. Subsequently, in the last 5 years the standards have brought about significant alterations to the delivery of nursing programmes at UK higher education institutions. This article reports the results of a pair of service evaluations, which gathered feedback from both pre-registrant students and educators in relation to their direct experiences of the NMC's proficiencies framework. The authors compare the contemporary perspectives collated here against earlier academic appraisals of the guidance framework, in order to outline its past and present reception at the level of delivery.
In the introductory preamble to Future Nurse: Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses it is emphasised that by ‘reviewing the standards, we have taken into account the changes that are taking place in society and health care, and the implications these have for registered nurses of the future in terms of their role, knowledge and skill requirements’ (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2018: 3). These standards were produced through public consultation (Glasper, 2017; Loveday, 2019). Due to its national remit, this educational framework substantially influences the future of the UK nursing profession. In this article, the authors aim to broadly quantify the educative efficacy in future-proofing the nursing profession that the framework has achieved to date.
In their article, published shortly before the 2018 standards were implemented, Leigh and Roberts (2018) suggested that the significant changes instigated by the new framework were likely to have both benefits and drawbacks in an academic context. The potential positives highlighted included the framework's electronic assessment components and their accessibility, alongside the licensing of a wider variety of placements in accordance with less proscriptive criteria for assessors (Leigh and Roberts, 2018). Expected challenges included differing levels of preparation by educators, and a need for efficient communication channels between the newly introduced practice assessors and academic assessors. Subsequently, this article seeks to provide an initial evaluation of the successes and learning points from the proficiencies framework's implementation.
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