Nurses have to possess the expertise to deliver care to everyone, everywhere
Nurses are essential in transforming healthcare and health systems. Being educated to degree-level ensures nurses are well equipped to provide high quality care. It also prepares them to take the lead, inform and design health services delivery, decision making and policy development.
The theme of this year’s International Nurses Day is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health for All, which champions the crucial role of nurses as a patient advocate, providing appropriate, accessible and evidence-based care.
In today’s world, the healthcare needs of populations are increasingly more complex. People are living longer can have multiple or long-term conditions (or both). Multidisciplinary care is required and there is a shift towards delivering care closer to home and the need to keep people with long-term conditions out of hospital.
Nurses work in a wide range of settings and roles bringing services to patients and populations in schools, homes, the workplace, clinics, prisons, field hospitals and shopping centres. They provide hands on as well as digital care.
This changing landscape means that practitioners now and, in the future, will need a deeper knowledge of mental health, child health and learning disabilities, and will deliver care independently or as part of a well organised multidisciplinary team.
In delivering and co-ordinating high-quality care today, the ‘basics’ nurses have a deep understanding of spans multiple subjects, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, sociology, psychology, research methods and economics. They deliver care to a diverse population and people and their families rely on them to translate, navigate and support them through worrying times. A degree-level education is a minimum requirement for nurses to provide this wealth of expertise.
Keeping ‘anti-intellectualism’ at bay
Anne Marie Rafferty is Professor of Nursing Policy at King’s and President of the Royal College of Nursing and has long been championing the proven benefits of degree-level education in nursing and continued professional development of nurses throughout their careers.
Over the years, Professor Rafferty has authored key research in workforce and policy, quality of work environment and nurse and patient outcomes. In a study published in the Lancet, Anne Marie and her co-authors demonstrated that nurses qualified to degree-level can reduce the number of preventable hospital deaths. Last spring she also contributed to a student-led commission which considered the future of the NHS and in March 2019, she joined the NHS Assembly to help deliver the Long Term Plan for the NHS.
Disagreeing with those who doubt the need for nurses to go to university, Professor Rafferty explained how her degree has opened the door to a wealth of opportunities.