Career advice

Further study for further development: the primacy of postgraduate studies

Since nursing became an all-graduate profession, undertaking a master's degree has become an increasingly popular choice, says University of Edinburgh nursing professor Tonks Fawcett.
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Since nursing became an all-graduate profession, undertaking a master's degree has become an increasingly popular choice, says University of Edinburgh nursing professor Tonks Fawcett

In the 1970s, only about one in 20 nurses in the UK had a degree, and the necessity of such an academic requirement was often viewed with derision. Now, as an all-graduate profession, the importance of a master's degree for career progression takes on greater potency.

The master's degree is the most common postgraduate degree, and a master's programme should equip nurses with what are often referred to as 'higher order' skills: critical evaluation; clinical decision-making; problem-solving and research endeavour demonstrated within theoretical frameworks.

However demanding this may sound, at the heart of all such master's programmes is the improvement of patient

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