Sunday, 14 July 2013

Education Is The Key To Success

One of the many things I was blissfully unaware of before embarking on my nursing education, was the fact that I would regularly encounter negative perceptions in relation to university-educated student nurses' quality of learning and preparation, in comparison to the more traditional method of ‘training’; i.e. pre Project 2000.

At a time when education is considered to be a human right, a feminist issue, and a key element in addressing health and social inequalities and inequities, I find it incredible that there are people who believe education is the worst thing ever to have happened to the nursing profession.

The world of nursing has changed dramatically throughout history; establishing nursing as a specialised and valued profession in its own right, as opposed to the positively-prehistoric representation of nurses as the dutiful handmaidens of seemingly omnipotent doctors from days gone by. Today, nurses provide a plethora of skillsets and services to a broad spectrum of patients. We are staff nurses utilising our clinical judgment and decision-making skills in order to devise and deliver advanced and comprehensive care and treatment, we are specialist nurses running our own clinics and providing valuable and unique input in relation to patient care, we are nursing teams providing more and more nurse-led services in a truly autonomous fashion, we are research nurses responsible for the provision of high-quality data and research, we are advanced nurse practitioners utilising enhanced knowledge and clinical skills in order to do what has traditionally always been the job of the doctor in determining clinical diagnoses, we are, in my opinion, the backbone of the NHS.

It seems logical to me that in order to fulfil and develop these roles and in turn our profession, it is necessary and vital that we be educated, not trained, to a standard fitting of such important, broad, and demanding roles. I say educated and not trained, because, for me, education implies an active and developing learning process that involves crucial skills such of those as reasoning and critical analysis, ultimately leading to evidence-based practice. Conversely, the word training connotes the indoctrination of prescriptive instructions and skills.

However, I'm aware as I write this that some people have an issue specifically with the standard of education that they feel is being provided, rather than an outright issue with university education itself. Obviously I can only comment on the education provided by my own university, and although I may not enjoy or see the relevance of every single lecture, I honestly feel that the education I have been afforded thus far has been invaluable, inspiring, and thought provoking. There will always be variances in how the programme is received and utilised by students, but I would argue that perhaps this an issue that relates to the candidate selection process rather than the education process specifically, but that’s a whole other blog post!

My university and the education that they have provided have been pivotal in shaping me into the kind of student nurse that I am proud to be, and I know that by the end of this degree, I will be a qualified nurse in the truest sense of the word.

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