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Redesigned learning programme for new nurses in Scotland

NHS Education for Scotland has recently launched a refreshed version of Flying Start NHS, its professional development programme for newly-qualified nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

In a recent blog post, we focused on concerns about the availability of support for newly-qualified nurses. In a timely move, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has relaunched its unique, groundbreaking Flying Start NHS programme. The changes were partly driven by feedback from practitioners and others with experience of the programme, as well as managers and service leads.

Originally commissioned in 2005 by the then Scottish Executive and launched in 2012, the web-based programme is designed for newly-qualified practitioners in Scotland, helping them move from being a student to being a confident, capable registered health professional in their first year of practice. The programme is open to nurses, midwives and allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists, working in any setting, from NHS hospitals to care homes and the armed forces. This unified approach will let the NHS in Scotland get the most of the skills available to them whether the individual is specialising as a Sick Nurse, Registered General Nurse, CAMHS or any of the other disciplines covered.

NES has redesigned the content of the programme to reflect how the delivery of health and social care is changing. With a greater focus on the work environment, it's more practical and flexible, providing a more tailored approach geared to the needs of individual practitioners.

To realign it with NES's existing post-registration career development framework, the programme content has also been simplified into four learning units, relating to the four Pillars of Practice: clinical practice, facilitating learning, leadership and evidence, research and development. The original programme had 10 learning units, including communications, teamwork and reflective practice.

In addition, newly-qualified nurses, midwives and allied health professionals now have up to three months to register for the learning programme after starting work, allowing them time to settle into their new roles.

"Flying Start NHS is more important than ever, because it helps prepare today's newly-qualifed nurses, midwives and allied health professionals for an exciting and productive career, taking advantage of new opportunities and roles," said Professor Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer for the Scottish Government.

The latest Nursing and Midwifery Council Register report, published in September, shows that more people are leaving the register than are joining it. Between October 2016 and September 2017, a total of 29,019 nurses and midwives from the UK left the register, while only 24, 204 joined it. In July, BBC Scotland reported that the country had seen the biggest drop in new registrations, with 1,200 fewer nurses and midwives registered in March 2017 than in 2014.

As we discussed in our previous blog, effective support and guidance, particularly in the first year of a practitioner's working life, can be crucial in improving morale and reducing the risk of burnout, encouraging more people to stay in the profession.

Graham Scott, Editor of Nursing Standard, believes that Scotland's Flying Start NHS programme sets the example for the rest of the UK. "Medicine has always accepted that doctors do not start their first jobs with all the knowledge and skills required to make a success of their roles," he wrote in a recent editorial. "By contrast, staff shortages mean newly qualified nurses are often expected to hit the ground running at full speed... Nurses who are new to practice deserve the opportunity to make the adjustment from student to registered practitioner in a more structured environment that offers practical and emotional support."

At Sanctuary Health we recruit for both locum and permanent nursing posts in Scotland. 

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