Innumerable concepts could have been discussed under the letter “p” but the central and blindingly obvious concept that should be discussed in a blog which is called A-Z professional nurse; must be that of “professional”. The elephant in the room cannot be avoided.
I am fortunate to live in a community where individuals are willing to help each other out. All of us can sometimes feel that we have little to offer those around us; but it is frequently in the everyday situations of simply being oneself and offering what one can to those around us that our true humanity is demonstrated. A recent intervention on behalf of a neighbour has avoided a potential public health catastrophe and maintained cordial relations in the street. In return the neighbour went out of their way to mend a fence and even took the time to obtain the appropriate covering for the fence. The challenge was then on to make sure that this kindness was repaid by successful execution of the task. The comment “that’s a proper professional job” was praise indeed from the diligent and proficient “do it yourself “ neighbour and was warmly received. However, whilst his comment was kind, I am not sure against what standard he had judged my efforts. A quick perusal of web-based information about fence painting contractors appeared to reveal a range of standards. Despite the majority of them claiming to offer a “professional job or service” there does not appear to be a commonly agreed and accepted standard or even a Guild or Regulator who may be able to guide fence painters.
This is not the case for nurses and midwives who have a Regulatory Body, the Nursing & Midwifery Council;(NMC), and a set of professional standards of practice and behaviour set out in The Code. Professionals are individuals who perform a role that requires specialist education, training and skills which are recognised and licensed or registered; as is the case with nurses and midwives, by a professional body; acknowledging the individual as being fit to practise.
The NMC set, review and maintain the Standards for education nursing and midwifery education and practice at both pre and post-registration levels. These standards are required to be met by all nursing and midwifery students on NMC approved programmes prior to entry to the register. This will ensure they are fit to practise at the point of registration. New education Standards are expected to be published by the NMC during 2017.
Here at Salford we have just had the pleasure of facilitating the completion and sign off of the pre-registration nursing programme for individuals who began their professional journey three years ago and so permit their transition to becoming fully fledged professional registered nurses. It has been as intriguing; as ever, to review some of the comments of those neophyte professionals as they reflected upon what it means to be fit to practise. In year three of the pre-registration nursing programme students are asked to consider real life case studies to help them appreciate the importance of always following and upholding the standards set out in The Code; not just in their practice as a registered nurse but in their everyday lives. This approach has helped emphasize their accountability for their practice and that everything they do must be in the interests of the health, safety and wellbeing of the clients in their care. These neophyte professionals recognise the privilege it is to be a registered nurse and the necessity of ensuring that they continue to develop and extend their competence throughout their professional careers. This week the School has welcomed its latest cohort of pre-registration nursing students and next week they will begin to explore the standards set out in The Code which will guide their development towards becoming a professional registered nurse.
To practise lawfully as a registered nurse in the United Kingdom, practitioners must hold a current and valid registration with the NMC. It is illegal to practise if your name does not appear on the Register; something the School’s most recent completing students absolutely appreciate as they await the arrival of their Personal Identification Number (PIN) with eager anticipation. Further The Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 makes the illegal use of the protected titles ‘registered nurse’ and ‘midwife’, an offence. None of us would wish to be cared for by an individual masquerading in a professional role for which they were not effectively and lawfully prepared. The title “registered nurse” is a protected title; the title “nurse” is not a protected title in the United Kingdom; it is in America, New Zealand and Australia. A petition to Make ‘Nurse’ a protected title to the UK Government and Parliament in April 2014 attracted only 256 signatures. Do you think Making “Nurse” a protected title would restore public confidence and professional pride as the petition suggested?
The Professional Standards Authority help to protect the public through their work with organisations that register and regulate people working in health and social care. Part of their work involves performance review reports to question the regulators they oversee about their work. Their latest review of the NMC 2015/16 was presented to the NMC on 25 January 2017. The review concluded that the NMC “Met all of the Standards of Good Regulation for Registration”.
Registration Standard 5 is as follows: “Risk of harm to the public and of damage to public confidence in the profession related to non-registrants using a protected title or undertaking a protected act is managed in a proportionate and risk-based manner”.
It is the interests of all registered nurses and the public that the NMC continues to meet this standard.