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Study looks at assertiveness of district nurses with specialist qualification

Research project will evaluate whether holding a specialist qualification boosts district nurses’ assertiveness.
district nurse with patient

A research project is investigating whether holding a specialist qualification boosts assertiveness among district nurses.

Analysis by Nursing Standard in November revealed that district nurse numbers in England are declining.

At last years RCN congress, speakers said district nurses need to be developed, not depleted. The colleges district nursing forum called for all district nurse who hold caseloads to have the UK-wide special practice qualification (SPQ). The SPQ is a year-long, full-time course in which community nurses develop skills such as health assessment, prescribing, research and leadership.

Impact on the profession

Now Keele University lecturer Julie Green, who is also a member of the RCN district nurse forum, is leading a research project

A research project is investigating whether holding a specialist qualification boosts assertiveness among district nurses.


Researchers will look at the impact on district nurses of the specialist qualification  Photo: iStock

Analysis by Nursing Standard in November revealed that district nurse numbers in England are declining.

At last year’s RCN congress, speakers said district nurses need to be developed, not depleted. The college’s district nursing forum called for all district nurse who hold caseloads to have the UK-wide special practice qualification (SPQ). The SPQ is a year-long, full-time course in which community nurses develop skills such as health assessment, prescribing, research and leadership. 

Impact on the profession

Now Keele University lecturer Julie Green, who is also a member of the RCN district nurse forum, is leading a research project examining the impact of the SPQ on the profession. The study, which involves 12 universities, is looking at how the SPQ might help district nurses become more assertive.

Dr Green said: ‘A district nurse who is assertive is far more likely to be able to balance the needs of their service in order to ensure the needs of patients come first.

‘The role of district nursing is central to the management of patients in their own environments who are increasingly very sick, very dependent and have multiple long-term conditions.’

Theory and practice

The SPQ is accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and requires nurses to complete two days a week at university, two in clinical practice and the remainder in study time.

The RCN district nurse forum said at last year’s congress that district nursing numbers had fallen 35% since 2010, and that it was essential those remaining were able to lead teams and manage complex caseloads.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) 2020 Vision Survey on the Future of District Nursing, published in 2014, called the SPQ ‘critical to effective team leadership and caseload management’.

Comparison

Dr Green’s research project involves 130 people who began an SPQ course in September 2016. The cohort will complete questionnaires and interviews to determine their level of assertiveness immediately after their course finishes in September 2017, and again in September 2018.

Dr Green added: ‘I passionately believe the SPQ needs to be protected for future generations. I hope my study demonstrates how valuable it is and why employers should continue to second staff to obtain it.’

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