Introduction to the course

Having had a period where there had been no student nurse training at the University of Sheffield a Post-graduate Diploma in Nursing (Adult) was developed by the School of Nursing and Midwifery and approved by the University of Sheffield and the Nursing and Midwifery Council in 2009. Delivery commenced in September of that year.

It had been developed in view of the facts that the period from 1997 had been one of sustained reform of UK health services. Changing patterns of disease and population demographics had brought fundamental changes to the purpose, organisation and resourcing of health and social care. Professional groups engaged in care delivery and management were being asked to accommodate new concepts and ways of working that challenge past perceptions, roles and conventions. Against this backdrop of reform the future expectations for nursing are being crafted, with nursing being identified as having a significant role in achieving the goal of a flexible, patient centred, cost effective and efficient health service.

The purpose and importance of nursing within this complex and evolving health care system was and still is, clearly described in all key policy documents (DoH 2007, DoH 2006. NMC 2007). All confirm the central role nurses will play in the reform and future management of care services. All emphasise the emergence of nurses as leaders, managers and co-ordinators of care, engaged as members of multi-disciplinary teams, prepared and empowered to lead change and clinical decision making. Alongside preparation for competent practice, nurses also need to be equipped with a range of intellectual and managerial skills that will deliver the confident and creative practitioner envisaged.

Change and uncertainty continue to be an integral part of the NHS experience and, in addition the Nursing and Midwifery Council introduced new standards for the preparation and education of student Nurses (NMC 2010). It is against these new standards that this programme has been developed.

This course sets out to prepare students for the complex world of health care practice in the field of adult nursing and to be able to tolerate the uncertainty integral to this complex working environment. Integral to this is the development of skills specific to this field but also opportunities for the development of generic skills in order to able to deal with clients from a wide range of fields of nursing. In doing so this will foster the development of an understanding of how the NHS and health and social care organisations function and interrelate, how policy and organisational factors impact on and influence the engagement and performance of all those involved and, importantly, develop the technical, intellectual and inter-personal skills necessary to actively and competently engage in multi-disciplinary, inter-agency care delivery.

Throughout your course you will come into contact with, and work alongside, highly skilled, experienced and respected practitioners and academics, some of whom court national and international attention for their contribution to nursing and medicine. You will be privileged in working with and caring for a range of patients and their families in a variety of health and social care contexts and you will be afforded opportunities to actively participate in care pathways and case management.

Care pathways across a range of clinical specialities and population groups are emergent features of the New NHS (Kings Fund 2008) and with care delivery becoming increasingly focussed on primary care services your understanding of the role of nursing within multi-disciplinary, multi-agency working is paramount. To facilitate this, you will be located in a Primary Care Trust, with a team, for the full duration of the course as this will afford you a consistent and continuous relationship with team working, organisation and management. You will, of course, work in other contexts of care, but your base will remain constant throughout the course. This should allow you to capture clearly the local services/ agencies and organisations which support and deliver care to the local population and enable you to develop links across all these with regards to supporting the patients in whose care you will be participating and managing.

Suffice to say, you are embarking on an exciting, innovative and challenging course which will inspire you for your future role in nursing. It received approval for delivery for 5 years from October 2012 without any conditions.