What is it about?

Trying to second-guess what the future holds for nurse education has been a major pre-occupation for nursing over many decades. More recently, articles of this nature have tended to look at the short-term future effects of legislated policy and reform – thus the degree of accuracy has been quite marked when it comes to evaluating these speculations a few years down the line (i.e., Francis and Humphreys, 1998; Glen and Clark, 1999; Mcilfatrick, 2004). In this editorial, I propose a ‘leap of faith’ that projects the reader 10–20 years on, thus presenting a personal predic- tion of what nurse education (if we will still be calling it this) might look like then. As with any rhetorical muse, however, there can be no sub- stance without an element of factual basis and so I present my speculations, where possible, against a current factual context.

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Why is it important?

In my mind, health professions or multi- professional education will be the norm – at least in Western curricula and certainly within Higher Education institutions. You do not have to be a crystal-ball gazer though to see this one coming. At my previous university, proposals were in place some time ago to replace all ‘nursing-specific’ programmes with generic health professions modules that are open to all health care professional groups. Related discussions proposed a shared pre-qualifying one-year ‘common foundation programme’ for nursing and medical students. An all-graduate entry requirement for health professional groups, and the pre-requisite of continuing post-qualifying education, will further drive this situation (Birchenall, 2000). Collaborative health professions education is already with us to varying degrees, with combined and shared pre- and post-qualifying programmes for medical and dentistry students, nurses and other professions allied to medicine (in some countries abbreviated to PAMs) in place for some (Horsburgh et al., 2001; Guest et al., 2002; Barr, 2002; Wharrad et al., 2002; Morison et al., 2003).


So, I predict lots of radical change for nurse edu- cation and I predict its eventual demise over the next 20 years or so. I know that such a prediction will have me waving in the wind and I can also envisage the degree of consternation that such comments will provoke from some of my col- leagues. Others I hope will equally be able to see the potential ‘writing on the wall’. What I will fin- ish by saying though is that, whatever is in store, I do confidently predict some sort of radical New Order for nurse education in the medium-term future.

Dr Dean Whitehead
Flinders University

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This page is a summary of: Nurse education in the future: Will one size fit all?, Nurse Education Today, May 2005, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.nedt.2005.04.001.
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