Education and training of nurses: where are we going?
A number of recent nurse education initiatives have recently come to the fore in England and Wales. By their nature these initiatives are connected with the implementation of the new nurse associate (NA) role; the updating of the curriculum for undergraduate pre-registration training (which some might consider radical due to the inclusion of certain skills, for example, phlebotomy, previously only undertaken post-registration); a cadet scheme in Wales; and finally a use of the apprenticeship levy allowing healthcare support workers (HCSWs) to undertake a 4-year undergraduate nurse training programme, so they can ‘earn while they learn’. The programme length of 4 years allows part-time study along with their employers' required working-hours, as part of the apprentice employment contract.
These initiatives are to be welcomed for their contribution to the delivery of patient care and widening of access opportunities. The NA role has been designed to bridge the gap between unregulated HCSWs and registered nurses (RNs). The first NAs were admitted to the NMC register in January 2019 after a 2-year foundation degree programme. They are professionally accountable under the NMC Code and are eligible to apply for a shortened (18 months–2 years) pre-registration nurse training programme. Competences are undertaken semi-autonomously.
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