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Blog: We've come a long way

Avril Devaney, MBE, Director of Nursing at Cheshire and Wirral Trust, looks back on her career and forward to future developments.

As we approach International Nurses Day this year I find myself reflecting on how far we've come as a profession since I began training to be a mental health nurse back in 1983. 

In those days we trained in schools of nursing attached to hospitals. Whilst this was brilliant for networking across the branches of nursing and building an attachment with ourpotential employer, it did little for the academic status and progression of nursing.

Becoming university-based at degree level, was a huge step forward for nurse training and for the nursing profession as a whole.

Building on this academic security, we have now also embraced the new role of Registered Nursing Associate at Foundation Degree level.

We have been able to learn from our past to ready ourselves to meet people’s health needs of the future.

We are realising the benefits of enabling exceptional support staff  to reach their potential, in terms of clinical skills and ability to take on additional responsibility.

In doing this, we are also supporting registered nurses to develop nursing skills, push boundaries in their scope of practice and to challenge limiting expectations.

I have been impressed by the rigour that the NMC applied in developing its regulatory standards for the new role, and by the way Health Education England (HEE) has helped us to build partnerships across organisational boundaries to support placements and training for the role.

These trainees have had the best of all worlds - both academic and work-based. As we move forward in developing the new pre-registration programmes, we can build further on this.

It will be good to see co-production between providers, HEIs and people who access services continue to grow, so we can continue to improve outcomes.

Co-production is becoming more and more central to our practice as we work towards the goals of the Long Term Plan where our focus is on population health and well-being.

Regulation and good governance are as necessary today as they always have been, but added to this, is the need for us to get alongside communities and individual people to understand what matters to them and to 
co-produce care.

Nursing is in a strong position to provide the networked leadership necessary for this. We remain one of the best-networked professions that exists, and never has the potential for good from our networks been greater.

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