Oxford University Press - Online Resource Centres

Hart: Nursing: Study and Placement Learning Skills

Changes to nursing courses starting in September 2011

The Nursing and Midwifery Council have decided that by 2013 all registered nurses must be educated to degree level. As I write, nurse teachers at your University will be working hard to adapt and update their existing courses to meet the new requirements as the all degree programmes start in September 2011.

NB: If you have already started the Diploma programme then these changes will not affect you.

For readers starting in September 2011 and later who want to know all the details, then this link to the NMC website should provide all the answers. Please note though, that there is a lot of information here, and much more than you actually need (e.g. guidance for teachers and mentors).


The following is an overview of the key changes and direction to where the content in Nursing: Study & Placement Learning Skills is no longer current.

Chapter 2, page 15

New programmes beginning in September 2011 and beyond will follow the newly approved Standards for pre-registration nursing education (2010). These standards replace the Nursing & Midwifery Standards of proficiency for pre-registration nursing education (2004).

The standards for competence identify the knowledge, skills and attitudes the student must acquire by the end of the programme, as set out in the degree-level competency framework. This framework comprises four sets of competencies, one for each field of practice: adult, mental health, learning disabilities, and children’s nursing. Each set comprises both generic competencies and field-specific competencies. The competencies are organized in four domains:

  • professional values

  • communication and interpersonal skills

  • nursing practice and decision making

  • leadership, management and team working

The standards for education comprise 10 standards for programme approval and delivery. They provide the framework within which nurse education programmes are delivered, and specify the requirements that all programmes must meet, including those relating to the teaching, learning, and assessment of nursing students

The terms common foundation programme (CFP), to refer to year 1, and branch programme, to refer to years 2 and 3, are no longer in use. It is still, however, useful to know them as new terminology always takes time to become familiar and you may hear nurses in your placement use these terms.

Instead you should expect to hear the terms generic (to refer to knowledge and skills that all nurses need to know) and field specific (to refer to one of the 4 nursing areas: adult, child, learning disabilities, or mental health).

Where pre-September 2011 nursing students had a distinct experience of the CFP as year one followed by their chosen branch, new students can expect the course to have a more blended approach, with generic and field specific elements going on throughout the programme.

There are also now 2 progression points in the programme (most likely at the end of the first and second years) where you will be required to have met a certain level of competence, knowledge and skill level, in order to be permitted to proceed on further.

Chapter 9, page 142

The NMC Standards to support learning and assessment in practice (2006) have been updated with some minor amendments only.

Now see instead NMC Standards to support learning and assessment in practice (2008)

Other changes

Work on the Essential Skills Clusters was going on at the time the first edition of Nursing: Study & Placement Learning Skills was being written. These have now been published and will feature in your assessment of practice. The five main areas of focus are:

  • care, compassion and communication

  • organizational aspects of care

  • infection, prevention and control

  • nutrition and fluid management

  • medicines management