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NZNO and nursing council to meet over EN title.

The Nursing Council has agreed to talk with NZNO about the possibility of a compromise over the title for the second-level nurse. NZNO's board of directors' December meeting agreed to explore a compromise on the title in an attempt to make progress on the issue.

Last year the Council issued four scopes of practice, one of which was for a "nurse assistant" (NA). This title applies to those who have completed or are completing training through Christchurch and Northland Polytechnics.

In his letter to council chief executive Marion Clark requesting a meeting, NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals said NZNO's major concern about the NA title was that it was not consistent with the Council's stated objective of retaining a regulated second-level nurse. NZNO was also concerned about the scope of practice and educational preparation for second-levels nurses. These issues were fundamental to any discussion about maintaining and developing the second-level nursing workforce.

NZNO believes the Council's scope of practice for ENs is too restrictive and the educational preparation, at level 4 on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority framework, too low. In his letter Annals suggested that the key to resolving the title issue may be the Council reexamining its current definition of scope and the level of the educational preparation.

Title for all second-level nurses

Annals said that NZNO was willing to consider alternatives to the EN title as long as any alternative denoted regulation and the title was applied to all second-level nurses, regardless of their educational preparation. NZNO believes that, as for registered nurses, any particularities of preparation should be dealt with by attachments to individual practising certificates. In his letter to Clark, Annals said there had been a call at the South Pacific Nurses' Forum for the Council to reconsider its decision on the title, in consultation with regulatory authorities in the South Pacific. He also wants adequate consultation with Maori about any new title for the second-level nurse.

Annals reiterated that NZNO had not made a formal complaint to the Regulations Review Committee and would not do so unless a satisfactory outcome could not be achieved through discussion with the Nursing Council.

In her response to NZNO's letter, Clark said the Council was keen to discuss the NA title with NZNO. A meeting between NZNO and council representatives was to take place this month. Any decision on a different title for the second-level nurse would have to be endorsed by NZNO's board and the Nursing Council.

Course discontinued

Northland Polytechnic has discontinued its second-level nurse training, as there were only 12 enrolments for this year's course. The first course the polytechnic ran, which began in July 2002, attracted 36 students, with 30 graduating. The next two courses attracted 22 and 20 students respectively, but were considered marginal with those numbers, polytechnic chief executive Terry Barnett said. Those who graduated from the Northland course were restricted to practising in care of the elderly.

Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) is running another programme this year, beginning on April 20. Course co-ordinator Rose Mitchell said there was interest in the course in long-term care and rehabilitation and a number of confirmed students. Mitchell was undertaking a recruitment drive on the West Coast, Blenheim and Greymouth this month. She said the Nursing Council's decision on the NA title had had an impact on the course. The CPIT course is a certificate in nursing "as that is what they are doing", Mitchell said.

Forty students of the last course sat the State final examination on March 15. "Some of those students have been offered three jobs. There is a demand for a second-level nurse," Mitchell said. She remains convinced of the place of the second-level nurse in the nursing workforce. Meanwhile, Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki's (WITT) is offering a range of distance learning courses for ENs. The courses offered in the first semester were : Healing and Wound Assessment; Care of the Aged; and Promoting Health Choices. The courses began late last month and each cost $75.

Distance education co-ordinator and nursing lecturer at WITT, Sharon Phillips, said four more papers would be offered in the second semester: Health and Safety; Infection Control; Sexuality; and Pressure Area Assessment. The papers have been adapted from bachelor of nursing courses. The cost had been kept to a minimum so people were not excluded. Completion of the papers would provide evidence of ongoing learning, as required for competence-based practising certificates.

Phillips said the courses had been developed because ENs were not offered many educational opportunities. "They are not included in registered nurse education at public hospitals and what private institutions offer is mainly aimed at caregivers. Many ENs I know are feeling devalued, even though they have been nursing for many years. They are interested in more education, in learning why things are done in a certain way. The papers are aimed at preparing ENs for ongoing learning."

'Hungry for education'

Chair of NZNO's national EN committee Robyn Hewlett is thrilled the institute is offering the papers. "The fee makes them affordable for everyone. Enrolled nurses are hungry for education and to update their knowledge."

One hundred and fifteen ENs from as far afield as Wanganui and Dannevirke attended a study day at Hurt Valley District Health Board early this month. Topics included aged care, the development of portfolios, infection control and pain management.

Chair of the Greater Wellington Region EN committee Kathy Ingram was delighted with the response to the study day.
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Title Annotation:News And Events; New Zealand Nurses Organisation, enrolled nurse
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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