Comment | Supporting the nurses and midwives of the future
By Professor Julie Green FQNI, FRCN, Head of School, Nursing and Midwifery, Keele University. This article first appeared as a Personally Speaking column in the Stoke Sentinel in April 2022.
To be a nurse, for many, is seen as a 'calling'. providing a lifelong career in an honourable profession, caring for people at their time of need. Indeed, the families of many potential students speak of how proud they are at their offspring's career choice and how they have often actively encouraged them to select a career in healthcare. So, is nursing still a good career choice today? Modern day nursing is physically, psychologically, intellectually, technologically, and emotionally challenging. Clinical settings are fast-paced, medical and nursing advances are constant, and our patients require a person-centred focus and an individualised approach.
Today, May 12th, is International Nurses' Day. This day marks the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth, but it celebrates the commitment of all of our nursing leaders. Traditionally, this is a day when nurses, and nursing, is celebrated across the world. Today, here at Keele University School of Nursing and Midwifery, we have celebrated the day with an international conference with Schools of Nursing and Midwifery in Australia, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Germany. We have celebrated our profession and have exchanged learning from the pandemic.
The pandemic has been challenging for us all, not least our nurses and midwives who have continued to deliver care in the community, in our hospitals, and in local surgeries. Some nurses and midwives made the ultimate sacrifice, and we honour their memory. Covid has also challenged our student nurses and midwives, who, despite being early in their healthcare careers, were deployed into clinical practice to support the NHS. They have continued with their learning and practice experience and are now qualifying as our practitioners of tomorrow; well trained nurses, with degrees, who are confident, competent, but also brave, and resilient, in response to the challenges that they have faced.
Here at Keele University, we are proud to support the nurses and midwives of the future and we aim to equip them, through our innovative curriculum, our varied clinical placements and learning via clinical skills and simulation, with the skills that will ensure that they excel in the clinical areas they choose to work once qualified. Nursing is an all-degree profession, in line with all other healthcare disciplines. This assures us that nurses are academically and professionally qualified, equipped to ensure the care and safety of their patients. Indeed, we have over 5000 Keele graduate nurses working clinically in the NHS – and many choose to stay local once qualified.
In the United Kingdom, nursing students select their future field of nursing when they commence their programme. Here at Keele, we offer adult, children's nursing, learning disability and mental health focused routes, with all students developing the enhanced skills that are needed for their patient or client group. In addition, there are other routes into Nursing, and we have a range on offer; from a Foundation Degree Apprenticeship Nursing Associate route, Nursing Associate to Registered Nurse shortened route and an accelerated Master's degree completed over two years, for those with a non-related degree and caring experience. These are all offered in addition to our established BSc.
We have a high proportion of mature students, supporting the adage that it is never too late to consider a rewarding career change. We also welcome students from all over the world to undertake their nursing and midwifery training with us; we truly benefit from having international students in our cohorts, bringing with them a broad insight into global healthcare needs, and enriching our understanding of other cultures around the world. We welcome those of any age, from the UK or across the world, and from any career background, to train with us to be a nurse or midwife, providing they meet our entry criteria.
We are investing in our simulation resources at Keele, with a health house and a health bungalow being developed on campus over the forthcoming months. These facilities will allow our students, across our health programmes, to explore joint simulated learning, to develop their skills and expertise and be presented with a range of clinical challenges in a controlled and safe environment. Indeed, it is in such safe spaces that learning excels alongside specific and challenging scenarios.
So, back to the original question: Is a career as a nurse an exciting, lifelong, honourable career? I would say a wholehearted 'yes'! Both nursing and midwifery provide many careers within a career and a myriad of choices and specialisms to align to. Having been a nurse for more than 35 years, I have never regretted a day and still consider it an honour and privilege to provide care for people in their time of need. It is rewarding, exciting, challenging, and stimulating; it requires lifelong learning but every day, whether in practice or in education, has rewards that are endless.
If you want to know more, come along to an open day and have a chat with us about what nursing and midwifery can offer you.
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