The government has announced a £5 billion budget to improve training and the development of health staff for a more efficient service. Under the mandate to Health Education England, which has been set up to highlight the importance of NHS training and education, it is hoped the plans will ensure a more multidisciplinary workforce is equipped to operate in both hospitals and the community. Indeed, plans are afoot to try encourage around half of student nurses to carry out community placements as part of their training by March 2015.
People in nursing jobs can also look to agency roles to help broaden their horizons and meet the government's objective of creating more multidisciplinary staff. Taking on an agency role alongside your full-time position,or becoming a full-time agency nurse, will help develop your skills, allowing you to work in a variety of settings and with a wide range of patients. If you are interested in developing a specialism, this can be a particularly attractive option. In an agency position, you will be able to gain experience in the area you wish to specialise in. Not only does this help with making sure you are choosing the right path, it also demonstrates your commitment to a specialism.
The government itself has shown an interest in developing a stronger workforce to help out with dementia patients. As many as 100,000 staff are due to have foundation level dementia training by March 2014, with plans in the pipeline to extend this further by autumn this year. Agency nurses can also look at the potential to specialise by using some of their shifts to work with dementia patients. Again, this will give them the experience required to make an informed decision about specialising.
Commenting on the series of measures to improve training of NHS staff over the next two years, health minister Dr Dan Poulter described the workforce as the "health service's most precious resource".
"We must do all we can to ensure that our staff have the right values, training and skills to deliver the very highest quality of care for patients," he said. Dr Poulter also pointed to the nation's ageing population as a reason for more investment in the training of health staff. He added: "As people are living longer with more complex medical and care needs, so must we ensure that our NHS workforce has the right skills and values to provide more care in the community for older patients as well as to give each and every child the very best start in life."
There are plenty of options for nurses wishing to specialise, whether that is in paediatrics, dementia or neonatal, for example. As an agency nurse, you will have the opportunity to try out a variety of specialisms so you can be sure you are following the area best suited to your preferences and abilities. You might even find your interests are not what you thought they would be when getting hands on experience. In any case, the government seems committed to helping health staff get the training they need, which all works to boost patients' and nurses' confidence in the service.
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