Preregistration adult nursing programmes and promotion of a population health agenda: an investigation
Promoting health and preventing ill health are key standards of proficiency for pre-registration nursing education in the UK. The knowledge and skills required to fulfil this role is dependent on students developing a clear understanding of population health during their educational experience. The websites of the 60 undergraduate adult nursing programmes in England that lead to registration were explored, to see how the population health agenda is presented in the information for future candidates. It was found that only 26% of universities promote a population health agenda in the general description of the adult nursing programme, emphasising clinical skills teaching and partnerships with hospital trusts for placement provision. To embrace the breadth of 21st century nursing practice, universities should be marketing nursing proficiencies and raising awareness of the wider context in which care is delivered during recruitment. This approach to branding has the potential to challenge stereotypes and widen participation.
Nurses have been identified as key to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as their role has the potential to reduce health inequalities across the life course (World Health Organization (WHO), 2020). However, the role of health professionals is considered to be underutilised in addressing the root causes of poor health in our society (Marmot et al, 2020). Nurses need to develop a clear understanding of population health during their educational experience, if they are to have the knowledge and skills required to fully assume their role in promoting health and preventing ill health (Allen et al, 2013). In 2012, the Willis Commission criticised nursing education in the UK for being overly focused on illness and acute hospital care and failing to prepare nurses for 21st century practice. The report was influential in the subsequent review of nursing education and revised standards of proficiency, which acknowledge the key role of nurses to promote health and prevent ill health (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2018).
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