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Specialist district nurse qualification must be supported

Specialist district nurse qualification must be supported says Association of District Nurse Educators chair Julie Bliss 

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman has welcomed the RCN congress resolution urging RCN council to lobby for all district nurses to have a specialist practice qualification (SPQ) accredited by the NMC.  

The current pre-registration nursing standards prepare nurses to work in or out of hospital setting.  Pre-registration student nurses are looking to the community for their first destination post and the District Nursing and General Practice Nursing Education and Career Framework supports this move to community nursing as an active career choice.  

At a time of uncertainty regarding the funding for district nurse education going forward, it is important that district nursing does not become a casualty of the times. 

There has been discussion regarding the value of the SPQ for today’s healthcare needs. The NMC Standards for Specialist Practice which were last reviewed in 1994 and rebadged for the NMC in 2001, could be argued to have limited relevance to current practice. However, educationalists across the four countries work with their partner trusts and health boards to ensure the contemporary nature of their programmes to meet individual service needs.  

Recent developments include establishing advanced patient assessment and independent prescribing as core parts of the programme and the incorporation of the new QNI/QNIS Voluntary Standards for District Nurse Education and Practice (QNI/ QNIS 2015a). 

The SPQ provides the ideal route by which future district nurses can be developed to provide advanced practice to meet the increasing complexity and acuity of patient needs in community nursing.  As such it is essential that the SPQ continues to be supported and developed going forward.
Julie Bliss 
Chair, Association of District Nurse Educators


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