We understand that students, approved education institutions (AEIs) and their practice partners continue to experience unprecedented challenges as the pandemic continues.
Our priority is to continue to support students to successfully complete their programmes on time, so that they can begin their careers as qualified, registered professionals.
Changes to our standards
At the start of the pandemic, we introduced emergency education standards to allow more flexibility in programme delivery.
Emergency standards which allowed extended placements were withdrawn in September 2020. These standards were replaced with recovery standards to support students returning to their normal studies, while still allowing flexibility in the way programmes were delivered.
In recent weeks, health and care services and the workforce have again come under increasing and extreme pressure.
In January 2021, we received a request from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, supported by the Chief Executive of the NHS in England, to reintroduce emergency standards to allow extended placements in relation to final year nursing students only, so that they could again support the response to Covid-19, where they wish to.
Following careful consideration by the NMC and after listening to the views of the UK's Chief Nursing Officers, the Council of Deans of Health, and other partners, we've reviewed the Secretary of State's request and agreed to reintroduce emergency education standards for final year nursing students.
The emergency education standards allowing extended clinical placements don’t apply to all other undergraduate nursing and midwifery students and post-graduate diploma/masters students. These students will continue with their studies as planned and receive supernumerary status when on placements.
We've agreed to introduce two additional emergency standards relating to first year nursing and midwifery students and supervision and assessment in practice, following advice from the service and Approved educational institutions about some of the difficulties they are facing in supporting student clinical placements.
The updated emergency education standards:
- enable first year nursing and midwifery students to focus on academic and online learning rather than participating in clinical placements while the system is under pressure due to the pandemic
- enable final year nursing students to opt in to undertake paid clinical placements while the emergency standard is in place
- give education institutions and their practice learning partners more flexibility to ensure students get appropriate support and supervision.
We’ve also agreed to introduce a new recovery standard as we know that Covid-19 has impacted nursing students’ learning opportunities in practice learning placements.
The updated recovery standard:
- ensures the next generation of nurses qualify in a timely way with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver safe, effective and kind care.
- enables students to practice and learn through simulated practice learning where conventional clinical practice isn’t available or isn’t possible.
We’ll ask AEIs to report back to us and their feedback on how they’re using our recovery standards and how they’re maintaining students practice learning opportunities and achievement of proficiencies.
This new recovery standard is in addition to the recovery standards and emergency standards we’ve published over the past few months. As with all our other recovery standards, we’ll review these standards regularly.
Find out more about our emergency and recovery programme standards.
What this means for students
The emergency education standards are optional for education institutions to adopt, based on their local needs, and each country will be choosing whether to adopt them or not and what the arrangements will be. Normal education should continue where it's possible to do so.
Please speak with your university about the options available to you. They will let you know about any impact on your learning experience and can support you.
You may also find the following links helpful:
- NMC statement on enabling student education and supporting the workforce
- Open letter to all nursing and midwifery students in Scotland from Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer
- Open letter to all nursing and midwifery students in Wales from Jean White, Chief Nursing Officer
- Health Education England's nursing student support guidance during Covid-19
Covid-19 temporary registration
Informed by the views of our partners and our assessment of the current situation, we’ve decided not to open up the Covid-19 temporary register to nursing students. Read our statement to find out our reasons.
Apprenticeships (England only)
Nursing and midwifery apprenticeships
The emergency standards will apply to both students undertaking a nursing or midwifery degree apprenticeship (NDA and MDA).
During the Covid-19 pandemic, your employer might need to deploy you to support the workforce, which might affect how your programme is delivered and its duration. If you’re employed, your education institutions will need to work with employers to support any changes to the way their programmes are delivered. This might mean that some courses are deferred.
Nursing associate apprenticeships
Some of our recovery standards apply to all NMC approved education programmes, and therefore will apply to our approved nursing associate (NA) programmes.
However, we do recognise that most nursing associate students are on apprenticeship based programmes, and employers may call their students back into practice during the emergency period. This might mean that some courses are deferred.
End Point Assessments
If you’re due to take your End Point Assessment as a NDA, MDA or NA, the Institute for Apprenticeships is supporting new flexibilities. These are for Registered Nurse (RN) Degree Apprentices and Nursing Associate (NA) Apprentices that reflect the adjustments we’ve made with regard to professional registration in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
With immediate effect and during the Covid-19 pandemic, any RN and NA apprentices who have completed the NMC approved programme; been assessed by the NMC as having permanently met the requirements for Professional Registration; and passed through the apprenticeship gateway will be regarded to have met the EPA requirements and have achieved their apprenticeship.
This change will only be applied to qualifying apprentices during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you have concerns you should seek advice from your education institution and your employer about this. You can find more information about this in the government's latest guidance or through the Institute for Apprenticeships.
As registered nurses and midwives, we know that being in the position to contribute to the nursing and midwifery workforce during this time might affect your studies. Maximising the workforce continues to be our priority, and we hope that your programme is gaining some normality at this time, but we recognise some programmes may take longer to complete.
Nurses and midwives on prescribing programmes will continue to contribute to the delivery of care in their usual place of work or be deployed as necessary by their employer.
We encourage students to continue their programme to completion by working closely with the education institution's, who can continue to provide support theory and practice. This might be achieved by changing the mode of delivery and assessment for the programme while making sure it meets our standards during the emergency period.
Programmes may have been interrupted during the initial emergency period and this may continue throughout the pandemic, if it's not possible to support student's prescribing practice under supervision.
Special Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN)
Most students on the SCPHN programme will likely be in a position to contribute to the delivery of care in their current place of work.
Where possible, we encourage students and employers to continue their programme to completion. We know that people working in these areas are may be redeployed or with reduced number of contact hours in people's homes. Programmes might have to be deferred during the pandemic if supervision and practice learning on these programmes isn't possible.
Specialist Practice Qualification
Registered nurses and midwives undertaking a specialist practice qualification may contribute to the delivery of care in their usual place of work or be deployed as necessary by employers.
We encourage students to continue their programme to completion. This will mean working closely with their education institutes which may be able to continue to support theory and practice by changing the modes of delivery and assessment for the programme while making sure it meets our standards.