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Head of nursing welcomes support for degree-led nurse training

Posted Thursday 8 November 2012

Dr Julia GaleDr Julia Gale, the head of the School of Nursing at Kingston University's Faculty of Health and Social Care and Education comments that universities will feel bolstered by the strong support provided by Lord Willis in his recent report on nursing education.

Speaking following last week's release of the Willis Commission on Nursing Education, Dr Gale commented that while partnerships between universities and health service providers to deliver nurse training were working well, there was still room for improvement. 

According to Dr Gale, 12-hour shifts, the reduction in the number of qualified nurses, and the proliferation of healthcare assistants had a significant impact on nursing training: "Placements in hospitals and with other health and social care providers are vital for student nurses' learning, but long, concentrated shift patterns and fewer qualified nursing staff on the wards mean those supervising students are under a lot of pressure. This can have a negative impact on the quality of the learning experience they are able to provide for students."

Dr Gale warned against an idealisation of the nursing profession in years past and emphasised recent improvements for both nurses and patients.  She added that a major challenge going forward was to try to get the right people into the profession to provide a high standard of care for the public.

"One of the most important things is to look at how we improve the quality of new recruits to the profession. At Kingston and St George's we have implemented a new recruitment system to help assess whether those applying for nursing degrees have the empathy and judgment needed to become good nurses. We use role plays to evaluate whether potential students share the values of the NHS and can demonstrate respect, honesty, and compassion."

Dr Julia Gale is head of the School of Nursing within Kingston University's Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, a joint venture with St George's, University of London. She has overall responsibility for the nursing courses offered by the faculty, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. A former nurse, and now educator, she is also primarily concerned with improving practice and standards of care in nursing, as well as looking at how continual professional development is delivered to staff.