A report in The Lancet recently highlighted the link between a nurse's level of qualification and the lowered risk of inpatient mortality was striking, and a clear vindication of the move to an all graduate nursing profession.
In the UK, an all graduate nursing profession has been slow to become established. This very issue was raised with me last week, while speaking at an international nursing conference in Manila. The conference was attended by nurse leaders and researchers from more than a dozen countries, all of which have had graduate nurse education as the norm for several decades.
The audience was delighted to hear that since September 2013, the professional nursing qualification in the UK is now a degree at minimum of bachelor's level. There was concern that it had taken so long for a country with a long and proud history of nurse education to have achieved this - and confusion over the Assistant Practitioner programme for nursing assistants, which remains unregulated.
A professor of nursing from the US questioned whether this was a reinvention of the previous two-year state-enrolled nurse programme. He cautioned against the move as he said that in the US there is evidence to suggest that patient outcomes are remarkably improved by the numbers of registered (graduate) nurses caring for patients - mirroring the findings of the research reported in The Lancet.
It was an excellent opportunity to explore how other countries approach nurse staffing, education and regulation - and a reminder of how much we can learn in an environment of sharing and collaboration. There are so many ways in which all nurses can engage with colleagues in other countries. As community nurses we can contribute to the International Collaboration for Community Health Care Nursing Research (www.icchnr.org), an organisation with which the QNI has recently become an associate partner.
I left the conference buoyed by new nursing contacts with a shared commitment to keep in touch about common aspects of community nursing, in order to enhance the care of those we serve.