A new programme to attract high-achieving graduates into a nursing career has been announced by NHS England.
Nurse First, inspired by the Teach First initiative, will create a postgraduate programme to fast track high achievers to registered graduate nursing positions. It is one of the latest steps in the NHS Five Year Forward View, anticipating the increasingly complex patient needs which will challenge the NHS by 2020.
The first trainees are due to begin their studies in September, ‘addressing workforce capacity and supporting the development of future nurse leaders in key areas’, targeting mental health and learning disabilities in the first instance.
Nurse First was announced by Professor Jane Cummings, the chief nursing office for England, who has overseen its development.
‘More people are training to join the NHS every year and we remain on target in terms of overall recruitment although there are still gaps in our nursing workforce,’ she said. ‘As frontline staff and services continue to face pressures from rising demand and more complex care, we know our workforce must continue to grow and adapt if it is to delivering diverse, high quality care to more patients than ever before.
‘As a profession, nursing has always greatly benefited from the varied backgrounds and life experience of its staff. It’s vital we continue to attract the best and brightest graduates, offering additional entry routes and career opportunities, so that we can continue to deliver specialist, high quality care to all.’
Successful applicants will attend an educational course as well as receiving hands-on experience and training within the NHS. Ambitious and committed individuals will then be given the opportunity to enter a development scheme to rapidly progress their careers to leadership posts within 5-7 years.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) welcomed the initiative as it will help confront shortages in staff resulting from several causes in recent years.
RCN chief executive Janet Davies said: ‘There is a critical shortage of nurses in the NHS and unsafe staffing levels put high quality patient care at risk. Measures to increase the number of registered nurses are very welcome and the Nurse First initiative is a positive way to attract talented graduates. Nursing is a hugely rewarding, complex and responsible profession.’