Are we teaching pre-registration nurses the right skills for working in clinical practice: a respiratory perspective

This week’s blog has been written by Dr Nicola Roberts (@DrNRoberts), Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University, who raises the question whether pre-registration nursing programmes are teaching the right skills for contemporary clinical respiratory practice.

Our recent study examined what respiratory care content is being taught in UK pre-registration nursing programmes in approved education institutions. The study, which was a freedom of information (FOI) survey of 75 UK-based, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved education institutions (AEIs), highlighted that there is variation in what is being taught with regards to respiratory care. The survey findings also identified that the amount of dedicated teaching time varies across the UK with regards to anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology and local and national respiratory guidelines. Respiratory learning was reported to take place during practice placements but, again, the nature and quality of this was variable. We know that this type of basic knowledge is important since all nurses will manage respiratory conditions at some point in their career even if they don’t specialise in this field. But are we focussing on the wrong knowledge?

The way we deliver care is changing – even faster as a consequence of COVID. Often those involved in chronic disease management, such as respiratory disease will be involved in delivering patient education, either on a one-to-one basis or as part of a group. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a perfect example of this. Many nurses are undertaking consultations via video conferencing, telephone or apps. How do we make sure that our future nurses are skilled to deal with this? We know that many nurses in practice struggled to upskill during the pandemic to adapt the way they delivered care. Should we be introducing our pre-registration students to some of these consultation skills such as motivational interviewing, conflict management and specific technical skills for example undertaking consultations using digital tools and developing their educational skills to educate patients in group and one-to-one environments? Some of those skills are developed in postgraduate programmes but is this too late?

There is always the issue of trying to squeeze in more content into pre-registration programmes but we do need to ensure that we continue to equip graduating nurses with the right skills to ensure nurses are confident in the workplace at the start of their careers.

Further reading

How to educate patients (2011)
Close A. Patient education: a literature review JAN

Roberts N, Welch L, Kelly C, Lippiett K (on behalf of the research and education sub-committee, Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists) (2021) Informing future nursing: An exploration of respiratory teaching in the pre-registration nurse curriculum Nurse Education in Practice 57: 103254 doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2021.103254

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