University  Educated  versus Hospital Trained Nurses!

University Educated versus Hospital Trained Nurses!

In the Rockhampton news, this week there was an ongoing discussion about the merits of university educated nurses versus hospital trained nurses. It was quite interesting to read some of the comments about what constitutes a good nurse.

So many people commented that you can’t teach caring and compassion in a university but you could to hospital “trained” nurses. It made me think about what the general public think that a nurse does and if the general public know just how well educated nurses are. It really makes me cross when I see all those cheesy Facebook posts that talk about nursing not being about grades and degrees but being able to sit with a dying patient and so on.

The most important role of the nurse is as a clinician. They are the ones that assess the patient, that spend the most time with the patient, that take the vital signs and act on them.  They need to know the pathophysiology of the body and the normal and abnormal vital signs. They are the first to recognise the deteriorating patient and to act upon this.  Nurses observe, interpret, assess and initiate treatment. They don’t just hold the hand of the dying patient and give out bedpans. Of course, they do this but this actually requires very little skill.

Being a patient advocate requires skill to navigate the minefield of egos that exist in a hospital. Nurses have to know about medications, how they work, what the side effects are, how to treat the patient if they have an allergic reaction. They must know about the latest in wound care treatments, this is a specialist subject all of its own. Nurses have to be able to educate new and novice nurses, they have to be able to educate patients and they have to interact with patients, their families, members of the allied health team, doctors and other nurses. They have to know and remember the legal requirements of their profession and of health care in general, they have to remember policies and procedures.

I “trained” in a hospital in the late seventies and I have very fond memories of those days, the camaraderie of the nurses home and the great adventure that it was. But I can honestly say that to be performing procedures on patients before you learnt how to do them was an adventure into the unknown.  I went on and did a post registration Bachelor of Nursing and a Master of Bioethics as well as Midwifery and an ICU certificate.

There is a lot to being a nurse, I now teach nursing to nursing students at university. We want them to be safe practitioners, to be able to assess their patients and initiate treatment if they deteriorate, we want them to have compassion and to treat their patients with kindness and we want them to be strong patient advocates. To do this, firstly they have to know what it is they are doing.

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Authored by: Toni Hoffman

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Joanne at 9:07 pm

    If ‘hospital training’ wasn’t/isn’t regarded as an educational/informative way to teach and/or learn nursing and being ‘universally trained’ isn’t necessarily the best then I like the sound of ‘trainees’. Let’s continue with 1st year being 75% university with 25% placement, 2nd year 60/40 then 3rd year 75% on the floor with 25% university. Maybe even have a fourth year (graduate year) where all students continue with 90% on the floor with 10% support study) then have the fifth year as a transitioning year/post graduate year. It does appear being hospital trained improves ‘caring’ but being university trained improves ‘knowledge’ it is a field where both are required you cannot have one without the other. Recent statistics & trends show lack of exposure on the floor is creating a high deficit in nursing care, we seem to have gone from one extreme to another, let’s compromise, let’s merge the two ideas together, let’s extend training, after all nursing is a life time.

  2. Carmel mcgrath at 1:06 am

    Don,t agree at all i have been trained under both systems, and i have found the way to learn is to practically learn all the necessary tasks. I have met qualified nurses going through College who have never given an injection, they may be great at doing reports but when it comes to practical aspects not as good.

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