Thursday, November 12, 2009

Degrees of Nursing

I once spent a year working as a nurse. There, that surprised you didn't it? Admittedly it was in Germany and was in a private clinic specialising in spinal injuries, but it was still nursing. I had no qualifications, no training and certainly no degree (it was my gap year).

So when I heard this morning that the NHS was now going to insist on a degree before nurses could train, I was dumbfounded. Not all nurses are academically gifted and would want to do a degree. Does a degree in astronomy make a nurse better able to do his or job, than four years hands on training? I'd have thought not, and yet all the nursing bodies seem to approve of the policy.

And are we going to insist that the foreign nurses recruited by the NHS have degrees too? I'd have thought that was impossible to enforce.

I'd love to hear what nurses themselves think. Would they have saddled themselves with £20k of debt before taking on one of the lowest paid graduate jobs there is?

UPDATE: Several commenters are pointing out that the mandatory degree is in nursing. On the face of it that has a certain logic to it, but on the other hand there are plenty of perfectly good nurses around who would struggle to get a degree. And the point about foreign nurses still stands.


Unknown said...

I think you will find they mean a degree in nursing.

Anonymous said...

Sadly Ian, this is all about status for the nursing bodies and grubby little bureaucrats in lower levels of government and in the NHS.

It's simple empire building.

Unsworth said...

Yep, it's a recipe for disaster. It'll reduce the numbers of new entrants by about 90%, and what happens in the interim? Nursing is fairly high turnover, hence the push some years ago to recruit former nurses who'd simply given up. Will they, too, be required to have university degrees?

This all makes a nice contrast to what is happening in schools, where Teaching Assistants are now being used as cheap teachers - and in police forces, where PCSOs are being used as cheap plod.

Rebel Saint said...

You are about to see the decline in professional health care, just as you have done in policing, postal services etc, as 'bright young graduates' are 'fast tracked' to senior posts without ever having done any frontline work.

Some educated buffoon on the Today programme this morning was saying how care has become so much more complex nowadays. No it hasn't ... CARING is exactly the same as it's been for 1000's of years.

A nurse who cares enough to offer to pray for a patient would be sacked but some arrogant, patronising know-it-all without the slightest real concern for people will administer drugs, service the equipment and 'manage' their clients ... I mean patients.

What's your betting that the people who proposed this are graduates with none or very little nursing experience?

Road_Hog said...

It's obvious that people who make policy don't live in the real world.

IanVisits said...

Without wanting to denigrate what a nurse does, having spent a month in hospital a few years ago, I would struggle to know why their job needs a degree.

I fully accept that some senior nurses do indeed do far more than just offering basic care, but do the majority (or indeed, all) nurses need to be so academically gifted?

How will doctors, who are notorious for protecting their pitch, feel about being surrounded by degree educated nurses!

Call me cynical, but is this just a sly way to cut down on foreign workers coming to the UK to seek nursing jobs? Is that why the unions are supportive of it, as they know it is harder to encourage a Fillipino to join a labour union?

Anonymous said...

The value of a degree, in the sense what does it mean as an academic qualification has been totally devalued by this Labour government. This is just another step in their grand Marxist communist plan. The claims that Bliar was centre stage politics is just a sham, when you look over the last 12 years of their occupation.

My comments will be laughed at but look at thew evidence:
a) Tractor stats, we have a solution for saving mortgages, when questioned the number can be counted on one hand.
b) Every body employed, yes a load of useless gov/local council non jobs in their millions.
c) Break down the country and rebuild it in their image, make the citizens dependednt upon the gov, benefits, immigration, economy destroyed, jobs, etc..

John Linford said...

Before long you'll need a degree to be a bricklayer. Not that I've got anything against bricklayers - it's a highly skilled job. But academic it ain't. We should value trade skills more highly, recognise the value of on-the-job training and have far more apprenticeships.

Ron said...

Um...according to the BBC the proposal is for the nurse to get a degree IN nursing. I think what you are describing here is like having a Masters in Nursing after your astronomy degree which would be a bad idea. This appears to extend the current diploma qualification and promote it to degree level.

My sister in law is doing a degree course in nursing at the moment and I think it will improve the profession.

Daily Blab said...

There is substantial support for people wanting to take nursing degrees. I believe it is nursing degrees rather than astronomy degrees which are being favoured.

Universities have been providing these degrees more and more over the last few years, and many nurses have taken them up to enhance their career.

LoopZilla said...

Nurse training at degree level has been happening for over a decade. Today's news story is hardly news....

Daily Blab said...

There is substantial support for people wanting to take nursing degrees. I believe it is nursing degrees rather than astronomy degrees which are being favoured.

Universities have been providing these degrees more and more over the last few years, and many nurses have taken them up to enhance their career.

OldSlaughter said...

Rubbish gap year Iain.

Go drinking and dropping acid in Fiji like everyone else.

Gordon Brown's Moral Compass Swinger said...

It's about creating a niche so all the graduates in underwater basket weaving from Derby University have an option other than Mcdonalds or Burger King.

Coming a week after Lord Meddlesome was slagging off the Red Bricks for focusing on A level results and therefore discriminating against disadvantaged yoof.

This seems an odd policy to introduce; some may say it is yet another example of a total absence of joined up thinking.

A cynic however may also suggest that as an ever increasing percentage of pupils leave school barely able to read or write, they needed to introduce a higher level of entry qualification.

Anonymous said...

And higher salaries? Just what the NHS needs.

Then there will be non-degree nursing because gifted academics do not want to empty bedpans.

Alternatively of course it may be the first step towards a quasi-medical degree to eliminate doctors of junior rank.

Easy to see why the nursing bodies are Tally Ho! about it but expect the BMA to be more circumspect... in due course.

Of course we are at the fag-end of a Labour Government, so best not to take yet another of it initiaitves too seriosuly.

Toby said...

cant wait to see what MMN says about it.

Jabba the Cat said...

New label, new big fat marker pen.

Given how dumbed down the edukashun system is at present, a modern degree in nursing would probably be equivalent to 5 O-levels from the 1970's, and whats the betting that a great portion of this new academic qualification will be about filling out forms and other 'elf and safety type pc bullshit.

Unknown said...

It seems to me that this is but another attempt to portray the PM and his team as busy workers and making a difference to the country before the forthcoming elections. Like most of his grand schemes as Cameron pointed out yesterday at PMQs they come to nothing. Time to move on Gordon time to move on.

Dr Evadne said...

Can't see what was wrong with the old two tier system of SRN and SEN training. It was robust and meant that anyone leaving school with minimum certificates could take the SEN route and progress from there. I would have thought that the type of theoretical content to a nursing degree would be very close to that studied by a doctor. Presumably some clever sod wanted to abolish a system of hierachy which will always exist. Degree or no degree, someone has to empty bed pans, change soiled sheets, wipe up vomit and more besides. You don't need a degree to do that, just common sense and a strong stomach.

AIL├ŹN said...

Nonsense...most of the overseas nurses are already trained to Degree standard...and enter the UK nursing profession better trained and qualified than their UK counterparts. Many of these workers are happy to join a trade union. As they often experience racism, exploitation from employers and difficulties with UK Government agencies.
I don't think this decision will make better nurses but it will ensure higher training standards. Some parts of the UK already have graduate only entry.

Bob said...

Will it be a pure education course, or will it be a vocational based degree?

Eddie 180 said...

All nurses to be Degree educated seems to me to be Labours Poison Pill.

If nurses are degree level entrants they will command a much higher salary, otherwise there will be a shortage. So up goes the NHS wage bill. Even more money will need to be devoted to health care just to stand still.

There is no need for most nurses to be degree level educated.

I recognise that on some High Dependency wards there is a need for more highly trained staff, and perhaps each ward should have a more highly educated nurse on each shift, but not all nurses.

Anonymous said...

Pete-s said: "My comments will be laughed at but look at thew evidence:"

I'm not laughing. I agree with you and I would add more to your list.

- Disabled treated like non-humans and swept to the margins of society

- Social engineering altering society by immigration

- Legal issues. Presumption of guilt, you need to prove your innocence

- ID cards, email & phone monitoring, DNA databases

- Crushing of small businesses and destruction of initiative and self-belief.

- Complete destruction of trust in politics as well as the neutering of the Commons leaving an all powerful Politburo

- Manipulation of the media to reinforce party lies (thankfully now beginning to fail)

- Destruction of the economy as part of its conversion to nationalised industry and central control

I could go on and on, but I've lots to do today so I'd better get on. Perhaps others could extend your list. It will not be difficult.

Unknown said...

To be honest with you, and my sister is a highly capable and very caring Mental Health Nurse working in a Respite Home for Mentally and Physically Handicapped children, I would prefer if I landed in hospital for any length of time, that my Nurse had learned her craft (and it is a craft/skill) at the hands of a 20yr Veteran of Nursing rather than out of a book with 4 years of study and a smidge of practical training thrown in. I am absolutely convinced that the skill of nursing is one where (and yes exams to qualify both theory and practical are useful) you MUST learn by watching, doing and training, there on the job!

JMB said...

When I read items like this I always remember a programme that STV used to have about medical developments, many yeras ago.

They reported on one hospital with an advanced Intensive Car Unit for premature babies that had a room full of very expensive complex things to hold the babies. But they could only use a half of them because they could not afford more nurses.

This was explained by the "nurse" in charge who had a grandiose title and sat in a big office with very large highly polished desk on a leather executive swivel chair. These two items must have cost many thousands of pounds probably in five figures even then.

Meanwhile the nurses had their own rest room full of very old tatty armchairs that looked as if they had been rescued from a dump.

It seemed to sum up the health service well and this must have been ten to twenty years ago.

Jabba the Cat said...

At this rate we will have plumbers, electricians, brickies and chippies all having to have degrees. This is the great ZaNuLab trick of relabelling everyone so that they can claim we have a highly educated nation of shit shovellers. Taken to its logical conclusion, you will need a Phd(minimum) to be a MacDonald's serf.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

There needs to be a basic standard of academic achievement, gained by merit and not plagiarism (quite prevalent) and by the application of basic skills, such as comprehension and writing. Some individuals go into the profession with an appalling lack of literacy.

There is a link you know, between gross ignorance and stupidity, and the large numbers of hospital borne infections.

It's about several things, but the main two are academic slippage, whereby your barber has "been to uni" to learn how to cut hair, and A levels aren't worth shit,and the other is to provide credible alternatives to house doctors who cannot provide the continuity of individual patient care under the shift systems demanded by the European Working Time Directive, which is essentially, slippage of roles.

Ben said...

We already reportedly have nurses who consider themselves too posh to do the menial tasks of making beds and carrying bed pans. If everyone has a degree, even a fake degree from one of the pretend universities (you know, 'formerly World of Leather') then they will have to create another tier of workers on lower pay to do the routine and the less pleasant tasks.

And add more bureaucracy at the same time, no doubt.

strapworld said...

This is removing nursing from the patients.

Just look in wards today. Nurses are too busy to give the TLC patients need. Patients who cannot feed themselves are left staring at food before them. If family are not there- they go hungry! That is especially relevent in the wards for the elderly.

Cleanliness. In the fifties and sixties nurses were proud to keep their wards spotless. NOW they are too bust flying here there and everywhere.

I have spent time recently in a very good hospital. On those two occasions, whilst the nurses were excellent. They still were dashing here there and everywhere. Everyone was dashing about. No calmness about the place whatsoever.

Ask yourself this. Has the drive to get more graduates into the police enhanced policing? Look at today's story of a 30 odd page booklet issued by ACPO on how to ride a bike!!

In the forties/ fifties/sixties when most police officers came from the military after national service etc, there was pride, discipline and they did the job. They never forgot that they were a public service relying on the public!

Nursing was just like that. Now nurses are only qualified for that particular ward. TLC Bed Changing essential cleanliness. That is left to others.

We need a drive to welcome back the old values. Not this cheap doctoring!

Unknown said...

Some time ago I spent a couple of years teaching social policy and politics to students on degrees in Nursing, Podiatry, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy.
In some ways it was very enjoyable, the students were hard working and committed, in other ways it was absolutely soul destroying as both the students and I knew it was a complete waste of time.
The podiatrists were the most fun. The simply asked what any political concept I attempted to teach them has to do with feet.
There wasn't a lot I could say, other than that this was a mandatory part of the course and if ever they wanted to work with feet full-time they had to pass it.
At the same time as I was teaching these students politics and social policy infections like C Diff, and MRSA were taking route in our hospitals because basic hygiene precautions were being neglected.
Somehow I think these two events are connected.
I have nothing against nurses being well-trained, but most nursing degrees include areas which have nothing to do with nursing and actually damage the core skills nurses require.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it will possibly put people off nursing, although you do these days have nursing auxiliaries who seem to do what 'proper' nurses used to do in the days of 'Carry on Matron'.

I see no reason why the current situation of a Diploma cannot continue and those with an aptitude taking a degree. the important thing is to maximise skills aptitudes and ability.

Do you really need a degree to insert a catheter up your willy or empty a bedpan or wipe a bum?

A degree demonstrates a level of ability and trains the mind. Graduates then use that to et a job that hopefully suits them.

Nursing is the sort of job which really needs an apprenticeship type of training, it is also quite frankly a vocation where nurses have an affinity for the patient. A degree is an aspiration which could easily put a barrier between nurse and patient. But a nurse has no need to stop her education once qualified and many go on to be nurse managers.

Oh - and after 3 years of expensive education, what if the nurse fails the exam or gives up?

Glyn H said...

I thought was all degree already after the 20-years-ago ‘upgrade’ of SEN’s (designed for the caring but too stupid to get the A levels needed for an SRN) to RGN.

New logo for the General Nursing Council - To Posh To Care. Nursing is meant to be a vocation.

Look what all-degree primary school teaching has done for us. The poor little sods are not taught their letters, so unable to read and write they blunder through the secondary system, ignored by the sort of teachers who join trade unions, go on strike and riot at their Easter conferences until they flop out of the other end convinced that only early pregnancy and a Council house is the only way of earning a living and the male ones take to knifing each other in inchoate rage against the system, which has indeed let them down by not giving them basic skills.

What next, all degree politicians?

Faceless Bureaucrat said...

@ Dr. Evadne.

Hear, hear!...


Bardirect said...

My mother is currently in hospital receiving great care from nurses who went to the old secondary modern schools who would never do a degree.

We used to regard nursing (like teaching) as a vocation, comparable to a calling to the priesthood.

Yet graduates have always gone into nursing, and I know several uni mates who did in the early 80's - often into mental health after a psychology degree.

What this move actually proves is "grade inflation" with a degree now equivalent to a few good CSE's or O'levels in the 70's and A'levels in the early 80's with today's GCSE's a qualification for nothing.

It's a shame that they do not want to keep the Diploma for basic training and allow those who can and wish to go further to do a degree or equivalent, as there are many elements of management, health and safty, law, etc which are legitimate degree subjects but not essential for the majority of nurses.

Anonymous said...

Being the cynic that I am, my view is that this is just a way to nurses to fund their own training via student loans.

Rebel Saint said...

Just re-iterating what Unsworth said near the top ...

Teachers with degrees: they now spend less & less time with the children while the Teaching Assistants spend all their time with the children and often end up leading groups or even classes.

Police with degrees: At best they are in their patrol cars with speed cameras, or more often back at base doing the paperwork or assessing targets, whilst the PCSO's plod the streets and tackle the crime.

The same will happen with nursing. The Nurses will 'manage' the wards & do the target setting administration whilst all the stuff we used to think of as nursing will be done by the Auxiliaries (or whatever title they'll have)

Look at most of the declining services and you'll discover they headed up by people who've had no - or precious little - experience of the actual job. Instead they'll have learnt about management techniques and implementing total quality systems.

Too many chiefs, not enough Indians (is that now considered a race hate statement?)

Philipa said...

This is incredibly stupid and has the opposite effect of encouraging good nurses. A degree is an academic qualification. Nursing is not an academic behaviour. There is of course some technical learning and skill involved, just as there is in car mechanics. A car mechanic is useful and valued, just as nurses are, but a degree in engineering does not qualify you to be a car mechanic. They are different things. The trouble is that a nurse with a degree is likely to feel themselves above clearing up shit and being a good nurse, however much they promise otherwise. They tend to concentrate on what makes them feel important and it's not clearing up shit. So auxiliaries tend to do the nursing. If you are very lucky.

DespairingLiberal said...

I agree with you about this Iain. One unfortunate side effect of the determination of the Nurses unions and professional bodies to "upskill" nurses has been that nowadays most nurses no longer want to perform basic care of the patient. So people in hospital are fine if they want a complex drug regime but if they've soiled the bed - forget getting any help - that's for the assistants who are generally poorly paid foreign workers with little English and not on duty at night. This is one of the main reasons why geriatric care in particular in the UK is now dismally poor.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, the future nurses will be studying for a degree at the post-92 universities ( former polytechnics), and as some one who worked as an academic I know what the degree standards are in those 'new' universities.

Dave H said...

A degree ought to be a pretty tough academic hurdle. This sounds patronising but I never thought nursing was a particularly scholarly calling. If you made it a difficult academic test, I feel you would end up excluding a number of potentially excellent nurses.

In reality, of course, they will realise this and make it an 'easy' degree, thus devaluing both it as a qualification and degrees generally.

Typical Labour-style all round f***-up.

Bird said...

With degrees, nurses will be even more reluctant to do the basic caring - plumping up pillows, talking to patients, "can I get you anything?" etc.
Next stop, an army of low paid assistants to do the actual nursing.

Jock Coats said...

Nurse Dale - what fun!

Anyway, I'm kind of surprised that this is only coming into effect now. My university employer does nursing degrees, and my siste seemed to need a degree about eight years ago although then they could get most of it on the job under a scheme called "Project 2000". But I distinctly remember standing in the admissions office one day when a young chap came to the enquiry counter askeing about nursing and saying that he was devastated because whilst he was pasisonate about nursing as a career he knew full well that he would struggle with writing essays and would probably not even get onto a degreee course.

I recall thinking at the time what a tragic loss to the service not having the likes of him would be.

But I agree with John East - this is classic behaviour from protectionist professional bodies and can only result in higher health care costs over time. Just as when in the US the middle class medical schools managed to persuade the government only to accredit them and their kind and not the black community medical schools or the womens' medical schools whose graduates were, they decided, undermining their earning power by doing good deals with friendly societies to offer fixed contract care services to their members.

Anonymous said...

PS - things are getting desperate in Labours pre-election planning stakes.

Has the magician Gordon found the Debbie Mcgee to act as the distraction for his sleight of hand?

Unknown said...

Good grief.

This is hardly news, the profession has been moving steadily in this direction for nearly 20 years since John Major brought in Project 2000.

The reactionary ignorance on this subject expressed here is a tragedy.

Now already almost all nursing and midwifery programmes have become degree level and are much better for it in terms of care and professionalism.

As someone forced to nurse my own mother through her protracted death while neglectful nurses failed to clean her or care for her properly, this just can't come quick enough for me.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Nursing was never about money.Those who went into the profession did so because they had a vocation.......values you cant expect these Liebour tossers to understand. They see values as a sign of weakness. said...

At the moment, as far as I am aware, there are "auxilliary" nurses who are basically unqualified and do all the donkey work, and there are regular nurses who have studied a bit, for a diploma in nursing or something. If they are suggesting that even the auxilliaries have to have a degree, I think that's pretty silly, on the basis that we need people at the bottom to do the donkey work without complaining. If they get a degree first, they might realise that they don't want to spend their whole life doing bed baths.

Sorry if it sounds harsh, but I think the essance of what I'm saying is pretty indisputable.

Vulpine said...

"How will doctors, who are notorious for protecting their pitch, feel about being surrounded by degree educated nurses!"

Oh noes! Won't someone think of the poor doctors????


Anonymous said...

"- Manipulation of the media to reinforce party lies (thankfully now beginning to fail)"

Its only starting to fail as the media disseminators see which way the wind is blowing , and they need to go with the incoming in order to keep the baksheesh flowing .

If your not in with the spin you loose a lot of "sauce" that keeps the print or feature , tasty .

Most of the dead tree lobby have got fat on easy picking or handouts .

A famine is needed , but don't hold your breath.

Lola said...

I have recently spent 6 weeks in hospital after the NICE quango tried to kill me. It was an education.

Nurses vary from the academic to the non-academic. They were in the most part dedicated and competent, up to the level to which they were educated and/or talented. In other words there is a place for all grades of 'nurse'.

In fact all the clinical staff were good. The very interesting fact that emerged from my enforced observations was how all the clinical staff, and I mean all of them, 'gamed' the NHS bureaucracy. They had to game the NHS bureaucracy otherwise bugger all would get done. It is quite clear that the entire problem with the NHS is its communsitic management structure based entirely on the totally flawed command and control tota;itarian models once practised behind the Iron Curtain. Making nurses get degrees will not in any way tackle this root problem.

In talking to all the staff I met it is also clear that most of them are now very ready to tackle privatisation of the supply of the services of health care. They realise that the command and control strucure has utterly failed and is constraining them in the effective provision of care. As usual it seems the people are way ahead of the politicians in this regard. A really bold government could capitalise on this and true reform of healthcare might be a lot easier than they think.

But, universally, and I agree with this, they all want healthcare to remain free at the point of delivery. It's just that the NHS clinical staff on the ground can see that the current model is not working.

Lola said...

..and what's more all clinical staff need the patience of a saint to deal with the approximately 20% of idiot patients that come through their hands. On one occasion I took myself off to the dayroom whilst a young doctor tried to tell a patient what they had to do to get better. It was either that or walk over an clock the prat who just argued from total ignorance with everything the doctor told him. All he subsequently got was 'working to rule' care. Quite right too.

Anonymous said...

Nursing is a vocation, not a profession.

Student nurses used to start work at 16 with 3 GCSEs (or O Levels) and be taught, on the ward, to care for people.

If all "nurses" have to be degree educated, how long will it be before the nurses union, the RCN, start demanding nursing assistants be employed to deal with bed-pans, make beds, feed and change patients - in other words, to do the nursing?

Another fine example of producer capture in a nationalised industry.

James Higham said...

Nurse Dale? Certainly did surprise.

Anonymous said...

It's crazy.

Nursing involves taking physical care of patients. Keeping them clean, fed, paying attention to their needs. *You do not need a degree for this*.

IMHO, the NHS has gone for the degree because the NHS is not focused on healthcare, it is focused on bureaucracy. It it focused on management. It cares about *degrees*, not about patent care.

The nursing bodies are in favour because it will restrict the supply of nurses and so act to drive up wages.

Who gets the short end of it all? the patients and the taxpayer.

Every single piece of news I hear from our Government is wrong. I cannot remember the last time I heard something *right*.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

You are a bit behind the times Iain, Nurse Training has been a degree based course for the past 20 years. I became a Registered Nurse in 1986, and was one of the last to qualify by the old apprenticeship model.

I must agree though the degrees haven't made nursing better and I would prefer to see nursing reverting to the old apprenticeship model.

Jock Coats said...

Norman @ 11:47

Personally I think that's a bit unfair. We certainly have nursing students from UPenn use us as their exchange placement. I think the likes of UPenn would be quite interested in the quality of what they get.

Chris Paul said...

Found dumb rather than dumb founded? No-one will need a degree before training. They will get a degree at the end of the training and until they have done so they will either be an auxiliary or care assistant or pq nurse or pupil nurse or student nurse. Currently nurses either do diploma route (3 years) or degree route (also 3 years). They have a similar amount of classroom early doors. But in Yrs 2 and 3 diploma pupils do far more real shifts in hospitals. They also get TWICE the statutory grant. Towards £7000 and fees rather than £3000 and fees for the degree students who have a more student style experience. Diploma nurses once qualified can learn and earn in as little as 1 year to get the degree and the status and opportunities. This can be a FASTER and certainly less financially onerous route to the degree than e.g. doing A Levels as a mature entrant or getting the needed grades as a main cohort entrant. There will always be care assistants, auxiliaries and orderlies. But those who are nurses whether by time served or diploma or degree will have higher status. Which is a good thing. And those encouraged to take degrees will be glad they did.

Jabba the Cat said...

@ Alwyn ap Huw said...

"You are a bit behind the times Iain, Nurse Training has been a degree based course for the past 20 years."

Maybe, but basic hygiene fell off the curriculum and down between the cracks in the floorboards somewhere along the way...

Arden Forester said...

I bet you were a jolly good nurse. You wouldn't have left a bloke with a throbbing headache to drift off to the land of nod in pain, or let him eat his congealed dinner with urine-soaked trousers around his knees, would you. Any nurse nursing me in future needs a high level of TLC. Any fancy degree cuts not ice with me!

Terry Hamblin said...

The average registered nurse that you see today already has a degree in nursing. There is a way for nurses who were previously 'enrolled nurses' to become registered nurses. Many of those who nurse on the ward are health care assistants and these do not and will not have degrees. They can't do the clever things like dish out tablets, but they can do the messy things like wiping backsides.

Arthur Rusdell-Wilson said...

"Many good nurses would struggle to get a degree," you say (or words to that effect.) Iain, don't you understand that the degree will be dumbed down to a suitable level? Where have you been during Nulabours's educational reforms?

Salmondnet said...

Even more potentially good nurses lost to the profession and no doubt more "nursing assistants" employed to do the actual nursing that graduate nurses have become too grand to do (or who have used their graduate status to get other jobs).

Kate j Norden said...

Who says degrees have not been de-valued? A nursing 'degree' like many other 'degrees' are not academic at all. Vocational and academic quals are DIFFERENT, why pretending they are the same and call them all 'DEGREES'??

Anonymous said...

I'm sure its a degree in nursing Iain but that really does not devalue your comments. Some years ago I had almost a year in hosital and rehab. Pleny of time for a Management Consultant to observe what went on.
The people who had gone the academic route into nursing were generally poor on caring skills and dealing with patients as people.

The ones who had trained hands on, on the wards were much better at relating to their charges as people.

The real stars were three who had had traditional training, spent years on the wards progressing to senior sister level and then pursued higher qualifications.

But aren't academics and scientistys trying to hijack all human activity these days?

Top Writers Fail A Level

peter_dtm said...

To gain a degree you USED to need to submit a thesis. The thesis was supposed to 'add to the sum total of human knowledge' (in your speciality of course)

the occupiers of whitehall want 50% of the population to have degrees.

Obviously they are not referring to academic degrees.

So the nurses will be called 'auxiliaries' or 'volunteers' or some such and the people with thee faux degrees will do what exactly - a technician's job (who will all hold faux engineering degrees) as they work all the horrendously complicated machines ?

Grade inflation and job bastardization - we are NOT equall

John JAW said...

The tories should reverse this when they come into power. There is no relationship whatsoever between academic excellence and the ability to nurse a sick patient.

Chris Paul said...

Another try. Iain, both diploma and degree nurses currently have their fees paid. This is not means tested. And they get c £6500 and c £3000 per annum un-means-tested grants also.

Neither group need get into £20k debt to qualify as nurses currently and diploma nurses can usually get sponsored by NHS to upgrade to degree - taking one or two years for most candidates.

Under the very very very old apprentice system there would be SENs or practical nurses who did 1 yr chalk and talk plus, and one year on wards to get status. And those trying for SRN (a three year course plus some level of probabtion as a staff nurse) who couldn't pass the exams or bailed out could also register as SEN.

I have no doubt whatsoever that there will be a NQ-nursey role and that it will be called auxiliary or orderly or care assistant or whatever.

I can't see any harm in this whatsoever. And I wish the "rugged" midwives who attended my No 2 had a better training. I'll not go into what happened. But it was a damned close run thing.

And that in a generally most excellent maternity hospital.

Nurse Anne said...

Iain if you had no training and qualifications you were certainly not a nurse, and not able to do a nurse's job.

Are you all aware that if your RN has a degree that your chances of survival are higher? Hospitals with a higher proportion of degree educated nurses at the bedside rather than health care assistants have a lower mortality rates. It's been researched to death.

Nurse Anne said...

Oh and yes...the UK NMC is demanding that any registered nurses coming in from the USA, Canada, etc have degrees. Otherwise they will not give them a license to practice in the UK. This has been the case since the late 90's I believe. That does not stop any overseas applicants from working on the wards as a healthcare assistant however. Anyone can be a healthcare assistant as they are certainly not licensed with the NMC.

Nurse Anne said...

Looks like the UK is actually a bit behind. Degree is required in Australia as well.

Sorry you'll have to copy and paste all the links I am posting.

Nurse Anne said...

Chris Paul,

Most of the ward staff at this present time are nvq untrained staff rather than nurses. This has been the deal for years now.

Happy1 said...

You did NOT work as a nurse, you worked as a care assistant. VERY VERY big difference Iain.

Happy1 said...

Eddie said....

"I recognise that on some High Dependency wards there is a need for more highly trained staff, and perhaps each ward should have a more highly educated nurse on each shift, but not all nurses."

There are very limited HDU beds in the UK, and critically ill patients are regularly nursed on wards. Good skilled, educated nursing observation and care also prevents admissions onto HDUs. Your view is unfortunately flawed by lack of insight and awareness.

Nurse Anne said...

@ Eddie,

The patients on the wards are a mix of HDU patients, patients who would have been in ITU a few years ago, psyche patients, acute medical patients (COPDers who need non invasive ventilation etc and care of elderly patients. As an RN on a general medical ward you will be looking after 20+ patients of these kind.

Four of your HDU type patients may be on IV meds that take the better part of an hour to get ordered, obtain, prepare,check and administer. You also have to keep a close eye on those patients. Your ITU type patient even worse.

How would you look after your elderly dementia patients who need one to one care and your psyche patient who is trying to stab your elderly patients and beat up the domestic while staying on top of the HDU patient meds? Don't even think for a second that management is going to give you any assistance in the form of another nurse or security. Oh no they won't. They won't even allow us to have someone to answer the phone that rings every two minutes while all that is going on.

Anyone who becomes a nurse is walking into this situation and you will only have 2 care assistants to help and they will be overwhelmed by call bells, bed changes and escorting 5 patients an hour to test just as all that other stuff is going on.

That is reality. This is how management has the wards set up and this is why care is failing. Uncaring over educated nurses are not the problem.

And Iain...I still cannot believe you thought you were a nurse? Who calculated your patients drips rates, did trach care, managed their chest drains, picked up on tranfusion reactions, titrated cardiac meds based on telemetry? Not you Iain. The nurse you were working under would have had to do all that.

You couldn't, because you were not anything like a nurse. You were a care assistant.

You are not even allowed to use the term Nurse when referring to yourself unless your are licensed with a professional body and this is impossible without extensive education and qualifications.

Seriously, in the States if an unlicensed carer who takes care of patients in hospital or elsewhere is going around calling themselves a "Nurse" we can report them and get them arrested and fined. I'd really like to see that enforced here.

Mel said...

You were NOT a nurse, Iain. You were a Healthcare Assistant.
There is a lot more than being a nurse today than in, say, Florence Nightingale's day. She emphasised cleanliness, because to be honest, that is all she had to work with.

Nowadays with the medications, machinery, the acuteness of the patients... It is MUCH harder.

There isn't a huge amount of difference between the Diploma and the Degree - the same amount of ward hours, a few more essays. You have to work harder. You have to be able to show that you have taken in the information, and to a higher level.

Also - studies have shown that patients cared for by degree level nurses have a lower mortality rate.

Now, why don't you remove this ridiculous post and save yourself some embarressment?

fevatom said...

I'm afraid you might be misunderstanding this article slightly, and certainly the background to it.

Without being rude, you weren't a nurse on your gap year, whilst you certainly looked after patients, and i'm sure they appreciated it, nurses have to perform very complex medication regimes, do some really quite technical tests, frequent invasive observations regularly, order tests, and do things which are, with all due respect, very hard for the layperson to appreciate. on a gap year, you wouldn't be doing these things; you would've been working as an unregistered Healthcare Assistant (HCA). (this is the same as the old State Enrolled Nurse (SEN), or Auxiliaries).

Noone's suggested that HCAs should have degrees,however there are numerous studies stating that there is an inverse corrolation between the education of a nurse and adverse outcomes for patients
(this is mainly common sense:for example, if ,for some bizzare reason, Mrs Miggins from the canteen looked after patients, you wouldn't expect them to be as well as patients of an HCA, who wouldn't do as well as patients of an Old Fashioned Apprentice, 1970s Registered Nurse, then better still would be the patients of a diploma nurse, and then finally, the healthiest would be the patients of a degree educated nurse. Not only is this common sense, there are more studies than I can shake a stick at saying this)

I support mandatory degrees for nurses: gone are the days of Nighgtingale's Nursing, where all nurses could do was keep things clean, and care for patient's needs. These days, nurses administer very complex medication regimes, through many different routes (in veins, in muscles, in the spine, in bones, orally, vaginally, rectally, and probably some I've missed too). Many of these drugs are incompatible, and nurses need to be familiar enough to realise the drug combinations you can't put into the same arm, or that are too toxic for an arm and need to go into a central line nearer the heart. In addition, nurses need to be familiar enough with the drugs so they can spot any prescribing errors.
Then you add onto this the vast variety of treatments patients undergo: someone needs to explain this to the patients, and sometimes the doctor doesn't explain it fully or in a way the patient understands. to do this, the nurse needs to understand this in great depth.

as you can see, the modern nurse needs to know so much, from pharmacology to recognising patients who are about to crash, that it's not all about being a lovely person who cares (although this is incredibly important), and that a certain amount of acaedemic rigour is required.

Finally, I would like to protest in the strongest possible terms against lampooning Degree Educated nurses because they don't care: there aren't enough of them to do the basic care they need to do (Nurse Anne will tell you more about this, I'm sure)

Additionally (I know I said finally, but i've just realised), you, and your vocal readers may wish to know that degree nursing students spend over 50% of their time on the wards, which is, I believe more than a diploma student.

Please respect nurses, their job is a lot harder than anyone else's, certainly harder than doctors', in my opinion.

Sorry for the length of this comment, by the way: I have too much free time at the moment.