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Nursing and Midwifery Council publishes new proficiency standards

NMC describes standards, to be implemented by 2020, as ‘ambitious’ despite some criticism

NMC describes standards, to be implemented from 2020, as ‘ambitious’ despite some criticism

Nurse prescribing to a patient over a desk
Picture: Alamy

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has published ‘ambitious’ education standards that will have to be reached by all future nurses, although some have criticised the new standards as being too generic. 

The standards of proficiency for registered nurses set out the knowledge and skills nurses must demonstrate whatever the setting. Universities must implement the standards, which include replacing placement mentors with two new roles, from 2020.

The changes allow nurses to begin working towards a prescribing qualification straight after their initial training.

Generic focus

The standards have not changed the current four fields of nursing practice – adult, child, mental health and learning disability – despite discussions on whether there should be a ‘generic’ pre-registration nursing degree.

There are concerns, particularly in the smaller cohorts of children’s and learning disability nurses, that the new standards are too generic in focus.

Doreen Crawford, consultant editor of Nursing Children and Young People and nurse adviser with consultancy Crawford McKenzie, said some elements are inappropriate and impossible for children and young people's nurses to use. 

‘The relevance of some of the proficiencies to some fields could be questioned,’ she said.

But the NMC says the standards are designed to give nurses a greater understanding across all four fields of nursing practice, particularly mental health.

Raising the bar

NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said: ‘Our new standards represent a huge leap forward. They raise the bar for the next generation of nurses and not only match the demands of the role but the ambition of the profession.

'We’ve also overhauled the way universities train nurses and midwives. They’ll be given more flexibility to harness new ways of working and embrace technology.’

The proficiencies are grouped under seven platforms, including being an accountable professional, improving safety and quality of care and coordinating care.

Point of registration

Two annexes list the communication and relationship management skills and the nursing procedures that all nurses should have at the point of registration. 

Tasks that all nurses should be able to carry out at the point of registration include to:

  • Accurately assess people’s mental and physical health.
  • Administer basic mental health first aid.
  • Assess signs of deterioration and sepsis.
  • Assist with feeding and drinking.

Mentorship roles

Mentors on practice placements have been replaced with two roles in new standards for education institutions and practice placement partners. 

There will be a pool of practice supervisors, who can be any registered nurse and midwife, who will support and supervise students, providing feedback on their progress and their achievement of proficiencies and skills. There will also be practice assessors, nurses who will confirm student learning on a placement but not take an active role in training.


Further information 

Read the NMC proficiency standards


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