Stop trying to dilute field-specific training in children’s nursing
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Stop trying to dilute field-specific training in children’s nursing

Debbie Fallon Chair, Children and Young People’s Nurse Academics UK

In their Nursing Children and Young People opinion article Children’s nursing: is it time to rethink field-specific training? (see March issue), Edward Purssell and Rohit Sagoo invited us to ‘rethink’ field-specific training. They argue that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed children’s nurses as ill-equipped to care for adult patients, and that neither adult nor children’s nurses are ‘trained’ to care for those aged 16-24 years.

Nursing Children and Young People. 35, 3, 5-5. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.35.3.5.s1

Published: 04 May 2023

They suggest that, compared with other countries, our approach to nurse education produces an inflexible and inadequate workforce, and call for a return to a generic nursing programme that would, among other things, generate ‘free movement’ of nurses between adult and children’s services.

As academics who educate nurses to care for children and young people (CYP) our response is a reminder that the ‘generic’ nursing qualification idea focuses on adult nursing. We despair at the dilution of field-specific content already caused by the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) generically driven future nurse standards.

‘Given current placement pressures, denying students a field-specific experience is unworkable’

We also refute the notion that generic programmes lead to ‘lifelong’ decisions about specialising and recall how they disrupted workforce planning. Given current placement pressures, denying students a field-specific experience in favour of generic placements is unworkable and unethical.

Invoking the NHS Long Term Plan, Purssell and Sagoo suggest a generic programme would resolve a perceived care gap for 16-24 year olds and ensure safe transition between services. But they do not acknowledge that CYP and adult nurses already work towards this vision.

We suggest that the sub part of the NMC register should reflect that CYP nurses have the necessary education and experience, and so are best placed to care for CYP.

Some clarification of the NMC position would also help defend CYP nursing against further attempts at ‘genericism by stealth’.

Further information

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2018) Future Nurse: Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses.

Purssell E, Sagoo R (2023) Children’s nursing: is it time to rethink field-specific training? Nursing Children & Young People. 35, 2, 12-12. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.35.2.12.s

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