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Nurse education overhaul moves closer as NMC discusses consultation feedback

A plan to replace mentors with separate roles for support, training and assessment of nursing students looks likely to be approved.

A plan to replace mentors with separate roles for support, training and assessment of nursing students looks likely to be approved.

  • NMC meeting discussed feedback on draft education standards
  • About 50% or respondents supported move to replace mentoring
  • Introduction of national standardised practice assessment document welcomed

The proposal is part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) new education standards, which were published in draft form for public consultation last year.

Several changes proved hot topics of debate, including a requirement for all nursing students to prove they have a basic competence in each of the four fields of nursing.

Jill Macleod Clark
Dame Jill Macleod Clark

Lead adviser to the NMC on the changes, nurse academic Dame Jill Macleod Clark, last year said she would tie herself to the railings outside the NMC headquarters in London if the word ‘mentor’ appeared in the new standards.

Majority support the move to replace mentoring

Consultation feedback provided in an NMC report this week has now shown around 50% of the 1,932 respondents support the move to replace mentoring, as opposed to one third against it and the rest undecided.

However, the NMC said there was a mixed reaction to the suggestion that other registered health professionals could provide elements of clinical supervision. Meanwhile, a proposal to forego the need for NMC-approved training for supervisors/assessors was met with widespread disapproval.

During a council meeting on 31 January, NMC director of education, standards and policy Geraldine Walters said that quality assurance checks should allay such concerns.

Division over shared basic knowledge

However, Professor Clark’s desire for a shared basic knowledge across the four disciplines was met with polarised views, the NMC said.

The report indicated a divide between those supporting core and transferable skills, and those who believed there should be more emphasis on in-depth and advanced proficiency specific to each field of study.

A widely welcomed proposal, Ms Walters said, was the introduction of a national standardised practice assessment document (PAD) to increase consistency between graduates’ proficiency.

Prescribing and medicines for nursing students

A separate, parallel consultation on prescribing and medicines for nursing students received 706 responses.

It concluded:

  • Around 65% of individual respondents disagreed with newly qualified nurses being eligible for community practitioner prescribing programmes (V150) before completing preceptorship.
  • 40% disagreed with plans to drop the NMC’s own medicines management standard, with 23% in favour.

During the NMC meeting, Ms Walters said views from the consultations would be taken into consideration, but that feedback was not the ‘X Factor vote' and decisions would be evidence-based.

She added that teams formed of field experts and those with strong, polarised views were now negotiating on the final draft standards before they are presented to council next month for approval.

During the meeting, the council also agreed to visit all institutions providing nursing and nursing associate courses to ensure quality and alignment with the new standards.

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