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Nursing Education

January 1st, 2015
Nurses Education By
Nancy Lydia Kimmel R.N., Ph.D., C.H.M.M.

Nurse education is how nurses are prepared to engage in the delivery of nursing care. Nursing students are educated by teachers who are usually dual qualified, being both experienced nurses and educators. Almost all countries worldwide offer nurse education courses relevant to general nursing, mental health nursing and the nursing of sick children. Courses leading to autonomous registration as a nurse typically last three years. Nurse education also provides post-qualification courses in specialist subjects within nursing.

During recent decades, in many parts of the developed world, the emphasis on education has replaced the more practically focused, but often ritualistic, training structure of conventional practitioner preparation. Educational pathways stress a broader awareness of other disciplines allied to medicine, often involving Inter-professional education, and the utilization of research when making clinical and managerial decisions. Orthodox training can be argued to have offered a more intense practical skills base, but emphasized the hand maiden relationship with the physician. This is now outmoded, and the impact of nurse education is to develop a confident, inquiring graduate practitioner who contributes to the care team as an equal. However, not all qualification courses yet have graduate status. It is possible to link recent developments in nurse education with feminism and the rising status of women in professional roles elsewhere.

Traditionally, from the times prior to Florence Nightingale, nursing was seen as an apprenticeship, often undertaken in religious orders such as convents by young females, although there has always been a proportion of male nurses, especially in mental health services. In 1860 Nightingale set up the first nurse training school at St Thomas’ Hospital, London. Nightingale’s curriculum was largely base around nursing practice, with instruction focused upon the need for hygiene and task competence. Her methods are reflected in her “Notes on Nursing”, (1898).

Some other nurses at this time, notably Ethel Bedford-Fenwick, were in favor of formalized nursing registration and curriculum that were formally based in higher education and not within the confines of hospitals.

In contrast, nurse education in the United States has almost exclusively been conducted within university schools, although it is unclear who offered the first degree level program. So far as known Yale School of Nursing became the first autonomous school of nursing in the United States in 1923. In Europe the University of Edinburgh was the first European institution to offer a nursing degree in 1972.

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