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Board's eye view: building resilience for the next generation

Nursing graduates should be prepared for the stark realities of working in an overstretched NHS.

Nursing graduates should be prepared for the stark realities of working in an overstretched NHS.


Picture: John Houlihan

Recently I was marking work submitted by third year nursing students. Their aim was to produce a personal philosophy of care based on the four paradigms of nursing. 

All essays acknowledged that there are many challenges the graduates will face working in the NHS; namely staff shortages, bed shortages and escalating waiting lists. 

'How will they ensure patients have a good quality of life until death when they are dying in emergency department corridors?' 

But it was encouraging that this new generation of nurses highly value patient-centred care, with many citing the RCN definition of nursing as 'an art [that] involves the use of clinical judgement to support individuals: in their recovery from illness, in living well with long-term conditions and in realising as good a quality of life as possible until death'.  

Reality bites

But, these good intentions also concerned me; how realistic is it to achieve the definition put forward by the RCN when nursing vacancies for England stand at 44,000?

How achievable is it for new registrants to exercise clinical judgement when, due to staffing problems, they are no longer offered a period of induction and structured supervision to consolidate their education and build a sound foundation of knowledge? 

How will they ensure patients have a good quality of life until death when they are dying in emergency department corridors? 

And how will they reconcile their internal emotions when they realise that the real world isn't like the textbook indicated? 

I would like to see resilience and mindfulness built into the new Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) education standards, due this Spring, because the nurse graduates of the future will not only need to be clinically competent but resilient too, if they are to work in the NHS.


About the author

Mike Parker is a senior lecturer in emergency and unscheduled care at York University, and a member of the Emergency Nurse editorial board. 
 

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