Health academics call for debate about changes to nursing education

31 August 2016

Leaders in the health higher education sector have called for debate about how pre-registration nursing education can best prepare the future workforce to meet the changing roles of registered nurses. A new report, Educating the Future Nurse, released today calls for a stronger focus in future education standards on equipping the registered nurse to be able to respond to the demands of a contemporary 21st century society. This will include areas such as an increasing emphasis on promoting health and wellbeing, supporting self-management and self-care, research, and the flexibility to care for the whole person across the human lifespan (whether physical, mental or learning disability-related).

The report, published by the Council of Deans of Health whose members lead the education of future nurses in the UK, sets out a vision of the role of the future registered nurse and nursing education in light of the NMC’s current review of the standards for pre-registration nursing education. Key recommendations include the need for education to focus not only on specific knowledge and skills but to prepare new graduates to keep learning throughout their careers and adapt to changes in how care is delivered.

Professor Jan Draper, Chair of the Council’s advisory group on the future nurse, said:

“The review presents an opportunity to stimulate debate on the future direction of nurse education and the ways in which universities and practice organisations work together to design models of practice learning, including how to best develop high quality practice educators to ensure nurses have the requisite skills and competencies needed at the start of their careers”.

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar said:

“We welcome this helpful report from the Council of Deans of Health. It is encouraging that the vision for the future graduate registered nurse set out in this paper is very much aligned with our direction of travel, as we continue to develop our new standards for pre-registration nursing education.

Ensuring that nurses and midwives are equipped for the future in the context of a rapidly changing health and care environment is critical to our role in protecting the public. We will continue to work closely with the Council of Deans of Health, universities, practice organisations and other stakeholders to develop education standards that are fit for the future as part of our Education Strategic Plan”.

Professor Draper added:

“UK wide collaboration is key to shaping the future of nursing education and the development of skills needed to support delivery of high quality patient care. Universities will have a strong voice in this discussion and we look forward to working with the NMC and other organisations on its review over the coming months”.


Notes to editors

  1. The Council of Deans of Health is the voice of the deans and heads of UK university faculties for nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions. For further information:
  1. The report Educating the Future Nurse can be found here.
  1. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent professional regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK. For further information:
  1. The current NMC Standards for pre-registration nursing education were published in 2010. The review is being led by Professor Dame Jill Macleod Clark, Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of Southampton.
  1. For more information on this press release, please contact Jon Eames on 020 7419 5602 | 07496 693806.

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