NMC announces further education recovery standard to support nursing students during Covid-19

Published on 18 February 2021

A further education recovery standard to help students during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have been very conscious throughout the pandemic about the impact of Covid-19 on students and student learning. One significant impact is on the number and range of practice placements available for students. This is constraining the opportunities for some students to gain experience and learn in practice.

After engaging with partners across the UK, in February 2021, we have decided to introduce a new recovery standard, which gives NMC approved education institutions (AEIs) the opportunity to allow students to practice and learn in simulated environments where conventional clinical practice is not possible. This will increase flexibility to ensure the next generation of nurses have sufficient practical experience to qualify with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver safe, effective and kind nursing practice.

NMC AEIs can choose how best to apply this recovery standard, considering local circumstances, availability of placements and individual students’ need. Even in normal circumstances, different AEIs have different approaches to ensuring their students meet their learning outcomes. It is therefore not expected that this recovery standard will be applied in the same way in every AEI.

We have asked education institutions to discuss this change with their students so they can understand the approach being taken, and what will happen locally. A key principle in relation to all of our emergency and recovery standards introduced during the pandemic, is that education should continue as normal wherever possible.

Where necessary, this change allows students to undertake up to 300 hours of simulated learning across the length of their programme - which includes activities such as peer learning, working with sophisticated manikins, and online practice learning. However, a student’s final placement before registration must be spent in a conventional clinical care setting.

As we look to shape our future education programmes, following Britain’s exit from the European Union, we will no longer be required to include EU Directive requirements in our education standards. We will imminently be inviting employers, students, our registrants and public groups to complete a survey about the current standards and how they can be updated following the removal of the EU Directive.

Commenting on the introduction of this further education recovery standard, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, our Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“With thanks to the feedback from the four UK Chief Nursing Officers and our other key partners, I’m glad we’re able to introduce this further important recovery measure.

“The ongoing challenges and workforce pressures of Covid-19 continue to impact students’ learning opportunities, and as our existing emergency and recovery education standards demonstrate, we’re committed to doing all we can to support them through these difficult times.

“In particular, for some nursing students, we know this is affecting their ability to go into or experience practice placement opportunities in the usual way.

“In these circumstances, we want to make sure further flexible solutions are available for educators so that high-quality learning outcomes and proficiencies can continue, and to support the journey from student to registered professional.

“We will keep this recovery standard and all our standards under close review and look forward to hearing from our approved education institutions about how they use this flexibility so we can learn lessons for the future beyond the pandemic.”


Further background

• This further education recovery standard is in addition to our other emergency standards and recovery standards for students published in the last few months.

• You can view further information via our Covid hub for students and educators.

• Read more about the research we’re doing into our education standards following Britain’s exit from the EU.

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