Should entry requirements be lowered to help fill empty places on nursing courses?
Our readers’ panel members have their say on the Open University’s suggestion
An Open University report says 6% of places on nursing degree courses in the UK were unfilled at the start of the 2018-19 academic year. The OU suggested that lowering the entry requirements could help fill these places, generating 1,446 additional nurses each year. Nursing Standard readers have their say
Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham
Nursing is an academically demanding course and future nurses need a foundation level of knowledge on which to build. It is sensible to ensure minimum A level grades for entry into nursing. But entry requirements are not the real problem. The OU report highlighted concerns over money, working hours, perceived pressures of the job and travel, and it would be more appropriate to tackle these issues rather than lowering entry requirements. The government must invest in the nursing profession to attract more nurses with the appropriate qualifications.
Stacie May is a nursing student in Plymouth
I had a good education but chose to take an access to nursing course to prepare myself for the expectations of university. Entry requirements could put off people who might make great nurses, but nursing is academic as well as practical. If you are dedicated to becoming a registered nurse, you can educate yourself further by taking an access course or retaking exams. The OU report also recommends embracing technology-enabled learning, such as offering lectures online. Although there may be a place for additional learning online, studying for your nursing degree online only does concern me.
Grant Byrne is a nursing student in Edinburgh
It is essential that we make nursing degrees as accessible as possible, but are entry requirements really where we should focus our efforts? The OU report found that just 11% of those aged 18-24 were put off by the grades they needed, yet three times as many cited financial factors. A further 24% were put off by the working hours. Considering such issues are similar to those given by nurses leaving the profession, would it not be prudent to prioritise those instead? Unless we improve staff retention, any increase in student numbers is just helping to fill an increasingly leaky bucket.
Beverley Ramdeen is a senior nursing lecturer in Hertfordshire
We know there is a shortage of nurses and that recruitment numbers have been affected, but I do not agree with the lowering of entry requirements for nursing degree courses. As a nurse and a lecturer, I want to support candidates who can meet the practial and academic challenges of the course. Lowering the entry requirement just to fill the empty places on courses is shortsighted. We need to consider the message this sends out and the potential impact on the quality of patient care and patient safety.
Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only