Learning doesn't stop the day nurses, midwives and nursing associates join our register. As professionals, you commit to lifelong learning and development.

Many nurses and midwives undertake further education and specialist training to increase their knowledge throughout their careers.

For nurses and midwives, this might mean gaining an additional regulated qualification to become a specialist community public health nurse (SCPHN). Other nurses may gain NMC-approved specialist practice qualifications (SPQs), which give them extra knowledge and skills to support and care for people in their own homes or in the community.

Underpinning these qualifications, our standards make sure specialist community nurses receive a great education so people can access highly skilled, expert care in any setting without needing to attend a hospital.

The standards are changing

As the professional regulator of almost 725,000 nurses and midwives in the UK, and nursing associates in England, we have an important role to play in setting, promoting and upholding high professional standards.

Nursing and midwifery practice is different today than from a decade ago. We know it will continue to evolve further in the next ten years, with more care and treatment being provided by nurses in the community rather than in hospitals. We also know that supporting people to make choices that improve their own health and wellbeing and preventing ill health through public health interventions is critical.

Changes in practice accelerated as Covid-19 hit and specialist community nurses adapted to new challenges, new technology and new ways of working. They prioritised people's needs and care, kept them out of hospital and provided reassurance for our communities.

So, in collaboration with people receiving care, nurses and other partners, we’re reviewing the standards that set out the knowledge and skills needed to gain a specialist qualification, and the associated programme standards we set for these roles.

The vision

The new standards of proficiency will build on the ambition for community and public health nursing now, and in the future, by setting out the knowledge and skills that practitioners need to deliver complex modern care and improve public health.

The new programme standards will cover what we expect from education institutions and practice learning partners delivering this education and training. This will lead to entry to the SCPHN part of the register for health visitors, occupational health nurses and school nurses, or to annotation in one of six separate fields of community practice for professionals who have a SPQ. In addition, the programme standards will allow universities the flexibility to develop innovative approaches, which have the potential to increase access to courses.

They’ll support specialist nurses to provide expert care whether they’re at home, in the community, visiting a GP surgery or accessing public health services.

We want our post-registration standards to support practitioners to meet future challenges and build on our new pre-registration standards for nurses and midwives.

We hope our proposed changes will set a strong foundation for the future, acting as a stepping stone to future conversations about the regulation of advanced nursing practice.

Collaboration at the centre of the changes

We’re grateful to have been able to listen to and work with a huge range of practitioners, partners, employers, educators, students and people who use services, in all four nations of the UK. With them, we have co-created the draft standards we’re sharing for consultation.

Now, we want to hear from you. We want as many people as possible to tell us what they think of the draft standards.