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Nurse education consists of the theoretical and practical training provided to nurses with the purpose to prepare them for their duties as nursing care professionals. This education is provided to nursing students by experienced nurses and other medical professionals who have qualified or experienced for educational tasks. Most countries offer nurse education courses that can be relevant to general nursing or to specialized areas including mental health nursing, pediatric nursing and post-operatory nursing. Courses leading to autonomous registration as a nurse typically last four years. Nurse education also provides post-qualification courses in specialist subjects within nursing.
During past decades, the changes in education have replaced the more practically focused, but often ritualistic, training structure of conventional preparation. Nurse education integrates today 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 handmaiden relationship with the physician. This is now outmoded, and the impact of nurse education is to develop a confident, inquiring graduate who contributes to the care team as an equal. In some countries, not all qualification courses have graduate status.
Traditionally, from the times prior to Florence Nightingale, nursing was seen as an apprenticeship, often undertaken in religious institutes such as convents by young women, 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 that time, notably Ethel Gordon Fenwick, were in favor of formalized nursing registration and curricula that were formally based in higher education and not within the confines of hospitals.
Nurse education in the United States is 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 November 1955, a World Health Organization (WHO) study group on the education of nurses met in Brussels and made several recommendations, including that "At least one experimental school of nursing be set up in each country." In the UK, the first department of Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh was established in 1956, with a five-year integrated degree programme introduced in 1960.  Several other universities across the UK during the 1960s. In 1974 La Trobe University commenced the very first nursing course in Australia.
There are multiple entry levels into nursing. This has led to confusion for the public, as well as other healthcare professionals. The earliest schools of nursing offered a Diploma in Nursing and not an actual academic degree. Community colleges began offering an Associate of Science in Nursing degree, and some diploma programs switched to this model. Universities then began to offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Nursing degrees, followed by Master of Science in Nursing degrees, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees.
Nursing degrees in the UK
Pre-registration nurse training and education in the UK is now via a bachelor's degree (a UK Level 6 qualification) following the phasing-out of the Diploma of Higher Education (a UK Level 5 qualification) in Nursing which was previously offered at universities and colleges.
To become a student nurse, individuals must apply through the University and Colleges Admissions Service (commonly referred to as "UCAS") to their nursing degree choices, choosing from one of the four nursing fields: Adult, Children, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities. Requirements for entry to a pre-reg nursing degree are usually five GCSEs (including mathematics, English language and at least one science subject) at Grade C or above, along with three A-Level subjects (preferably but not essentially science-based) at Grade C or above, although the majority of universities will seek higher grades due to the competition for places. Key Skills courses are generally no-longer accepted as an alternative to GCSEs, however science or healthcare-based BTEC Level 3 Extended Diplomas and Access courses are most oftem accepted in lieu of A-Level qualifications.
If successful following interview, the student will study a "core" first year, learning basic nursing competencies essential to all four of the above fields. It is then from second year and onwards that the degree will begin to focus on the student's chosen field. Following completion of the degree, the applicant will be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as a Registered Nurse in their field of practice, using the post-nominal RNA, RNC, RNMH or RNLD as appropriate to their degree qualification.
Nursing degrees in Western Australia
There are two specific pathways individuals can take if they wish to become a nurse in Western Australia (WA). They can decide to study at university to become a registered nurse (RN), alternatively they can study at Technical and Further Education (TAFE) to become an enrolled nurse (EN). Both pathways require a variety of entry requirements whether it be passing year 12 Maths, English and Human Biology along with receiving a specific Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) also known as a score for university or providing prior learning experiences and legal clearances for TAFE. Either way individuals need to be aware these requirements can vary year to year and that is why they are recommended to contact each university or institute to find out entry requirements.
In WA there are four universities where individuals can choose to attend if they are wanting to complete a nursing degree.
Edith Cowan University (ECU) is located at Joondalup and South West (Bunbury) campus. ECU offers the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree which individuals can choose to study for three years full time or six years part time both on campus.
Curtain University is located in Bently, WA. This university offers an Undergraduate Nursing degree additionally referred to as Bachelor of Science (Nursing). This degree runs on campus for three and a half years full time however, students can request to study this degree part time.
Murdoch University also offers offer a Bachelor of Nursing degree with a three year completion date. The university offers this degree at Peel or South Street campus in Murdoch, WA.
The final university that offers a nursing degree in WA is located throughout Fremantle and is known as the University of Notre Dame. This university offer a Bachelor of Nursing degree which will take three years to achieve.
When students graduate from one of the four universities listed above they will be fully qualified as an RN and have a wide variety of job opportunities available. However, if individuals discover that university is not for them or can not gain entry into university, it is not the end of the world because there are alternative pathways available.
Attending TAFE is an alternative career pathway for individuals that still wish to pursue this profession. There are six institutes spread across WA which offer a Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled-Division 2 Nursing). These institutes include C.Y.O’Connor Institute, Great Southern Institute of Technology, Goldfields Institute of Technology, Pilbara Institute, South West Institute of Technology and West Coast Institute of Training. All institutes in WA roughly take eighteen months to complete the diploma when studying full time. Once a student successfully graduates from the Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled-Division 2 Nursing) they will be qualified as an EN.
Overall, there are alternative pathways available however an RN holds higher qualifications than an EN. There are key similarities of an RN and an EN as they both desire to fulfil their dreams of becoming a nurse and they must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, by complying with the Board’s registration standards.
There are a variety of areas where nurses can specialise in and they may decide they want to be qualified in one or several specialities over the course of their career. Here are an array of nursing specialty fields available:
- Burn Care Nurse
- Cardiology (heart) Nurse
- Clinical Nurse
- Community Health Nurse
- Continence Nurse
- Diabetes Education Nurse
- Dialysis Nurse
- Emergency Nurse
- Family Health Nurse
- Gerontology (aged care) Nurse
- Infection control
- Intensive Care
- Medical Nurse
- Mental Health Nurse
- Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse
- Nurse Practitioner
- Occupational Health Nurse
- Oncology Nurse
- Paediatric Nurse
- Peri-operative Nurse
- Plastic Surgery Nurse
- Rehabilitation Nurse
- Remote Area Nurse
- Rural Nurse
- School Nurse
- Surgical Nurse
- Wound Management
Among nurse educators, arguments continue about the ideal balance of practical preparation and the need to educate the future practitioner to manage healthcare and to have a broader view of the practice. To meet both requirements, nurse education aims to develop a lifelong learner who can adapt effectively to changes in both the theory and practice of nursing.
Czech nursing students 2006.
The American student nurse Miss Lydia Monroe of Ringgold, Louisiana, in 1942.
- Nurse educator
- Nursing school
- List of nursing credentials
- Diploma in Nursing
- Associate of Science in Nursing
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Master of Science in Nursing
- Doctor of Nursing Practice
- HESI exam
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