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Nursing to become degree entry from 2013

Anyone who wishes to become a nurse will need to have a degree within four years, in one of the biggest shake-ups of medical education in the history of the NHS.

The government will announce today that all new nurses will need to be educated to degree level in an attempt to improve the quality of patient care. The move, which will be enforced from 2013, is designed to raise the status of nursing and to end the stigma of the “doctor’s handmaiden”.

Critics claim that the changes, to be outlined by Ann Keen, the Health Minister, will create an elitist profession and scare off recruits with the prospect of a long and expensive period of study. There are also concerns that some nurses would be “too clever to care” and refuse to carry out duties such as washing and feeding patients and helping them to the lavatory.

There are more than 400,000 nurses in the NHS, making up the largest part of the country’s health workforce. The minimum level for NHS trainee nursing positions is a diploma – a two or three-year nursing course.

Under the new rules, candidates will require a degree in nursing or equivalent international qualification. The courses, lasting up to four years, will meet standards developed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the professional regulator.

The NMC has carried out a review of pre-registration nurse education at the request of the four UK health departments. The move is supported by all the key nursing bodies.

Read more at The Times.

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