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Nursing education changes will help more students to qualify

Amendments to NMC education programme standards include more simulated practice learning, and flexibility on entry requirements and learning settings

Amendments to NMC education programme standards include more simulated practice learning, and flexibility on entry requirements and learning settings

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is set to approve changes to its education programme standards in a bid to help more nursing students to qualify.

The changes include increasing flexibility around the use of simulated practice learning, which will allow educators to offer simulated training for up to 600 of the 2,300 practice learning hours required to complete a nursing course.

Changes to entry requirements and learning settings

Educational institutions will also be given flexibility to set their own entry requirements, with the NMC taking away the need for prospective students to have

Amendments to NMC education programme standards include more simulated practice learning, and flexibility on entry requirements and learning settings

Nursing students using simulated learning. Picture: Neil O'Connor

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is set to approve changes to its education programme standards in a bid to help more nursing students to qualify.

The changes include increasing flexibility around the use of simulated practice learning, which will allow educators to offer simulated training for up to 600 of the 2,300 practice learning hours required to complete a nursing course.

Changes to entry requirements and learning settings

Educational institutions will also be given flexibility to set their own entry requirements, with the NMC taking away the need for prospective students to have at least 12 years of general education before they can start a nursing programme. It is hoped this will make a career in nursing more attainable for more people, such as refugees and people from travelling communities.

The NMC council is expected to approve the proposals at its meeting on 25 January.

Other changes include allowing nursing students to complete all of their practice learning in settings most relevant to them. Previously practice learning was stipulated by European Union directives, but since the UK left the EU the NMC is no longer bound to follow EU rules on nursing and midwifery education.

Widening access to nursing courses

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘It’s essential that nursing and midwifery education is accessible to the broadest possible range of students and prepares them to meet people’s changing and increasingly complex needs.

‘That’s why we’ve drawn on evidence and best practice to propose changes that will widen access to courses and give students the best possible education.’

There have long been calls for the NMC to reduce the number of hours required to be spent in clinical practice. The regulator confirmed it was considering further changes to its nursing programme standards, including around the number of practice hours that need to be completed before a nursing student can qualify.

Exploring the impact of reducing the number of practice learning hours required

A summary of the proposed changes, published in NMC council papers ahead of its meeting on 25 January, said: ‘Although there was support to move forward in setting a reduced minimum number of practice learning hours, we have not consulted on a such a significant change, or reached a consensus on this position.

‘We need to explore the impact of such a change… and consider ways to mitigate any risks in reducing the minimum [number of] practice learning hours.’


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