Time for change in children and young people's nurse education

Concerns are being raised about children and young people's nurse education, and a university project aims to give nurses a voice and highlight positive changes

Children and young people nursing students learn and ask questions about baby incubation in a simulated exercise
Picture: iStock

We teach nursing students about intuition and having that ‘gut feeling’ to understand how experience and knowledge develops pattern recognition in identifying children’s deterioration.

Yet nurses and nurse academics have been raising concerns and saying children and young people’s nurse education just is not right’ since changes heralded by the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Future Nurse: Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses.

Ongoing discussions are emerging and highlighting the dilution of field-focused education and the move towards ‘genericism’. However, without the research to underpin this gut feeling of the impact of these changes, we are in a difficult position to be heard.

Listening to children and young people as well as their families is crucial

Nonetheless, the voice of children's nurses in academic and practice settings is getting louder. The NMC are now starting to listen but is this enough?

Calls for evaluation to understand the impact of the changes are rising from all fields of practice. The Fit4CYP project led by academics at the University of Plymouth hopes to answer some of these questions and preliminary results from our national survey support the concerns raised.

So, what comes next?

Those that shape preregistration nurse education need to have our patient population in mind – listening to children and young people, and their families is crucial. As children’s nurses, we know this and understand the importance of embedding the voice of children and young people in curricula, but ensuring this happens when curricula are adult-centric and generic is difficult.

Let’s keep encouraging all healthcare professionals to question what works best for preregistration nurse education and children, and together we can ensure change happens.

We need to keep using our voice and those of children, young people and their families to escalate our concerns and be heard.

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