Who Wants To Be A Nurse?

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0120150717

Professional nursing bodies have long debated how best to train our nurses so that they have the mix of skills they need to serve patients well. Jenny Clayton follows a variety of nurses in training - key issues and debate emerge.

Since 2013, everyone who wants to become a nurse in the UK must undertake a nursing degree. They spend half their time on placement working alongside trained nurses and dealing with patients, and the other half at lectures and tutorials. There are also essays to write and assignments to complete.

In this first programme, Jenny meets four students from the University of Essex and eavesdrops on their training - on the ward, at university, at home and in the community.

Charlee, who's in her second year, thinks nursing is changing: "Nurses are being given more and more responsibility, more and more is being asked of them so we have to grow with that. Personally I don't enjoy the academic side of it... but why should we just have to do the practical side?"

21-year-old Amy spends a lot of her time in the library. "As nurses, it's always important that as new literature is provided we keep up with it."

We follow Peter on a placement in the Burns Unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford. "I love patient contact, I love talking to people." But sometimes it's hard to be positive. "The pressures that are put onto nursing, and to doctors and the multidisciplinary team creates this funnel of negativity where mistakes can happen."

Kayleigh echoes his concerns, yet her motivation to complete her degree and become a qualified nurse is strong. "When I come on placement, it reminds me what I'm driving for... You walk away from it and you feel rewarded."

Producer: Hannah Marshall

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

0220150724

Professional nursing bodies have long debated how best to train our nurses so that they have the mix of skills they need to serve patients well. Jenny Clayton follows a variety of nurses in training, to explore the purpose and future of nursing in the modern NHS.

In this second programme, Jenny meets nurses at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, who have carried on their training since they first qualified. She follows them as they reflect on their roles, from treating patients in A&E, to managing a complex care ward.

Ruth Palmer is an Emergency Nurse Practitioner, which means she's trained to diagnose and treat a range of injuries and illnesses - someone with a broken arm, for example, might be assessed, put in plaster and discharged by Ruth, without ever seeing a doctor. "Some people don't want to be seen by 'just a nurse', but that's fine, that's their choice. Quite often the queue for the doctor's twice as long, but that's fine if that patient wants to see a doctor. But that very rarely happens."

Caroline Ashton is Ward Manager of a Complex Care Ward, which deals with patients with long term chronic conditions. "I'm probably known on the ward as the person that baths the most patients, because I think that's the time you have the opportunity to find out how the patient is."

Meanwhile, there's a shortage of nurses across the country. In the year to March 2014, hospitals in Essex spent £18 million on agency staff. We hear from a former nurse who left Princess Alexandra ten years ago, but who's now completed a Return to Practice course - part of an initiative to draw on the pool of nursing talent not currently working in the field.

Producer: Hannah Marshall

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.