The Department of Health has announced that, as of 2013, all new nurses in England will spend at least three years in training. An extra one or two years of training will mean nursing becomes a degree level course and will help nurses to meet the increasingly complex needs of patients, it said. The Government move follows a recommendation from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) which is currently developing new standards for nurse education.
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Current training combines theoretical and practical work ending in a diploma but the new standards will include a focus on gaining experience in community health teams.
Health Minister for England Ann Keen said: "Nurses are the largest single profession within the health service, and are critical to the delivery of high quality healthcare. By bringing in degree-level registration we can ensure new nurses have the best possible start to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Degree-level education will provide new nurses with the decision-making skills they need to make high-level judgements in the transformed NHS."
But while the move has been largely welcomed, Gail Adams, head of nursing at the union UNISON, says they should retain the profession's reputation for caring.
She told the BBC: "Our concerns throughout have been to make sure that the profession, whether you're a nurse or a midwife, that we're actually reflecting the society that we care for and I think one of the concerns that colleagues have had is about making sure the right emphasis is placed on the care and compassion that nurses give and that shouldn't be solely based on their level of academia."
What do you think? Is this a positive move or will it only serve to deter new nurses from entering the profession?