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Simulated learning hours set to play bigger role in students’ clinical practice

NMC proposals would allow up to 600 hours to count towards requirements
Picture shows a training session with the use of a manikin

NMC proposals would allow up to 600 hours to count towards requirements

The number of hours of simulated learning that nursing students can accumulate to meet their clinical practice requirement could be doubled amid an overhaul of education standards.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) wants to increase the time that can be spent on simulated activities, such as with manikins and in online practice learning, from 300 to 600 hours.

Proposals ‘a missed opportunity to truly innovate’

However, the regulator wants to retain the existing requirement that 2,300 of the overall 4,600 study hours must be spent in clinical practice, despite calls for this to be reduced.

The clinical practice requirement is far

NMC proposals would allow up to 600 hours to count towards requirements

Picture shows a training session with the use of a manikin
Picture: John Houlihan

The number of hours of simulated learning that nursing students can accumulate to meet their clinical practice requirement could be doubled amid an overhaul of education standards.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) wants to increase the time that can be spent on simulated activities, such as with manikins and in online practice learning, from 300 to 600 hours.

Proposals ‘a missed opportunity to truly innovate’

However, the regulator wants to retain the existing requirement that 2,300 of the overall 4,600 study hours must be spent in clinical practice, despite calls for this to be reduced.

The clinical practice requirement is far higher than in some other countries, such as Australia, where the minimum is 800 hours, and the US, where it is 868 hours. The NMC is no longer bound to follow EU rules on nursing and midwifery education, and has said it will explore the issue further in future.

The Council of Deans of Health, the body that represents the UK’s university faculties for nursing, described the proposals as a ‘missed opportunity to truly innovate’.

‘Increased hours for cutting-edge simulation opportunities that go beyond the NMC’s current proposals would allow students to further develop their skills and knowledge to meet professional standards in new settings,’ the council said in a statement.

‘Moving from an hours-based requirement to a three-year minimum programme would allow for further innovation and flexibility to develop programmes that better meet the needs of students, services and patients.’

NMC says proposals reflect need to offer students greater flexibility

The proposals, which will be discussed at a meeting of the NMC’s ruling council on 29 September, follow independent research and a public consultation on changes to nursing and midwifery education, which received more than 6,000 responses.

NMC executive director of professional practice Geraldine Walters said the move reflects the need to offer greater flexibility to students.

‘We’ve heard from many of our stakeholders during our research. Many are cautious about change, while some would like to see radical proposals,’ Professor Walters said. ‘Importantly, nothing will change without a full consultation first. In the meantime, we’ll keep talking to our partners to gain consensus on the right approach for everyone.’


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