NMC considers international models that reduce placement hours
Paula Holt tells RCNi’s Nursing Live event that regulator is looking at nurse education in other countries, and ‘quality of practice learning is probably more important than quantity’
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is considering international models of education for clinical placements as it explores whether the 2,300 hours needed to qualify can be reduced.
Speaking at RCNi’s Nursing Live event at the ACC in Liverpool, NMC senior nursing adviser Paula Holt said the regulator was looking at international models of supporting student practice learning that focus on quality rather than quantity.
This could include utilising practice-based educators to oversee practice learning in clinical settings rather than a nurse supervisor – a model used in the US.
UK has comparatively high number of practice hours
But Ms Holt stressed that no changes would be made in haste and that more work was needed ‘before we start making radical decisions about numbers’.
The UK has some of the highest number of practice hours required to qualify, with nursing students completing 2,300 hours before they can register. In comparison, just 800 hours are required to qualify in Australia and 1,000 in Canada.
NMC will be ‘taking a different slant on the question of hours’
She told the Nursing Live event: ‘We at the NMC get challenged constantly on two things, and it’s really escalated over the last few years. The first is why have we still got 2,300 hours of practice?
‘The second question is the field preparation of our nurses and whether that is something we should be looking at in terms of our standards.’
Ms Holt added that, in her next piece of work, she and her colleagues would be ‘taking a different slant on this question of hours’.
‘The hours may be important but my view is that the quality of practice learning is probably more important than the quantity of practice learning.’
Government’s workforce plan suggests cutting placement hours
In June the government published the NHS long-term workforce plan, which outlined ambitions to increase the number of nurses working in the NHS by 190,000 in the next 15 years, partly by increasing the number of places on nursing degree courses.
It proposed measures including ‘training staff more flexibly’ and cutting the placement hours needed to qualify by more than 20%, from 2,300 to 1,800.
‘Models of learning are very different’ between countries
Ms Holt said: ‘This isn’t an easy one to navigate. I did a piece of research that compares hours in different countries – what happens in Australia and New Zealand where it’s 800 to 1,000 hours?
‘But when you start to look at the different models… we’re comparing apples and pears. They may have fewer hours, but their models of learning are very different.’
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