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Practice nurse programme evaluated

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Evaluation of the NHS Education for Scotland (NES) General Practice Nursing Programme pilot has found that the role of new practice nurses in providing patient care was enhanced by the programme.

The programme was designed to deliver subject-related knowledge and clinical skills training to develop nurses who need specific problem-solving skills in autonomous practice nursing to provide patient-centred care.

The pilot began in September 2012, ran for 12 months and had 12 participants. Programme participants, educational supervisors and participant's practice staff were all observed at various intervals during the programme in order to assess its effectiveness.

The assessment included the feasibility of delivering the programme and achieving quality standards, how well the learners needs were met during and at the end of the programme, the experiences and behaviours of the learners who took part, and whether the programme achieved its aim.

The evaluation made a number of recommendations that were accepted. These included extending the length of the programme, reducing the volume of assessment, improving efficiency to increase numbers of students and providing the programme as part of a recognised career framework for practice nurses in Scotland. The findings will also inform the programme's development.

Susan Kennedy, NES national co-ordinator for general practice nursing, said: 'Becoming a general practice nurse has many challenges, not least the amount of new skills required, often with little practice nursing supervision. Therefore it is exciting to see how well the nurses on the new programme developed with the support of education supervisors and their practices.'

The programme has since received educational accreditation from the Royal College of General Practitioners. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, has also accredited the programme at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 10.

A second cohort of 15 practice nurses began the programme in September 2013. Applications for the third cohort starting in August this year are open and will close at midday on 27 May 2014.

The full evaluation can be found here:

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