District nursing is a core service within the NHS. The Five Year Forward View (NHS England 2015) sets out an expectation that more care will be provided in the community in the future. This care will be to people with increasingly complex needs and the people working in these health and social care structures will have to be more flexible to accommodate this.
The district nurse must respond to these challenges and the Queen's Nursing Institute/Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland (QNI/QNIS) Voluntary Standards for District Nurse Education and Practice (2015) provide a strong framework for district nurses in the current NHS as well as the skills and knowledge base needed to respond to the dynamic nature of community nursing.
There are two programmes at master’s level: the postgraduate diploma and the masters. (The postgraduate diploma is Year 1 of the full master's degree.) By successfully completing either of these programmes you achieve the new QNI/QNIS Voluntary Standards for District Nurse Education and Practice as well as the standards set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the Specialist Practice in Nursing in the Home/District Nursing professional qualification which is recorded on the NMC register. This qualification has integrated within it the Community Practitioner Prescribing (V100) qualification (NMC 2006), enabling you to prescribe from the community practitioner’s formulary.
You will also have demonstrated skills at Level 3 of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines in brief interventions which is a requirement for a district nurse as set out in the Health Education England’s District Nursing and General Practice Education and Career Framework (2015).
The programmes have been designed in consultation with local employers, professional standards bodies, students (past and present), service users and carers, and district nurse educators from across the country. We hope that this has led to programmes of study which are challenging, contemporary, inspiring and enjoyable.
When you successfully complete your chosen programme, you are well prepared for the dynamic and inspiring world of community nursing as well as being in a strong position to apply for position as a district nurse and team leader.
After successfully completing your course you are eligible to be awarded the recordable qualification of the Specialist Practice Qualification in District Nursing which has integrated within it the V100 recordable qualification of the Community Practitioner Prescriber.
For both programme routes, you study seven modules full time across a total period of 44 weeks. The PgDip route (which is the first year of the master’s route) includes practice competencies which you achieve on placement. The balance of the course is 50% theory and 50% practice.
If you continue to the MSc route after your first year, you undertake an eighth module which gives you 60 credits as a part-time student. This module involves you carrying out live research or a systematic review.
Modules offered may vary.
Where you study
In Year 1 of the MSc (the whole of the PgDip) teaching is split equally between the practice placement and theoretical study.
The practice placement is organised by your local trust which sponsors you for your place on the programme. This placement is usually in a different team to the one in which you have been working to give you a contrasting learning experience.
The theoretical learning is largely at our Middlesbrough campus. If you are studying the MSc, then the teaching in Year 2 is largely self-directed with supervisor support and can be arranged to suit you and your supervisor.
How you learn
These programmes require you to commit to a very comprehensive and individual approach to learning.
There are opportunities for some components of your learning to be accredited through recognised prior learning – this is agreed on an individual basis.
This course helps you gain confidence in accessing digital resources. You share some of your learning with other students on the postgraduate district nursing programme, some with students on other programmes and some further time with just your own programme.
Classroom teaching includes group discussions, presentations, project work and clinical skills development in practical labs. We highly value the experience and knowledge of service users and carers who are involved in the programme, for example through teaching activities and assessment. Your practice teacher plays a significant role in ensuring that you have access to great learning opportunities during placement. Their skills and experiences also provide you with an excellent role model.
The final dissertation module within the MSc route gives you the opportunity to focus on an aspect of district nursing which interests you. You investigate this issue in depth either through live research or a systematic review.
How you are assessed
You are assessed in a number of ways as we know that everyone learns differently.
These include exams, essays, reflections, reports, viva voce, simulations, research proposals, assessment of competencies in practice evidenced through a portfolio, and dissertation (if you are on the MSc programme).
Your practice teacher or sign-off mentor is key to your practice assessments.
When you successfully complete the programme, you are well prepared for the dynamic and inspiring world of community nursing with an advanced level of professional knowledge. You are also well placed to apply for a position as a district nurse and team leader.
Following successful completion of the postgraduate diploma, you can return to Teesside University within five years to enrol on the MSc route.
Visit the Specialist Practice in District Nursing MSc/PGDip page on the Teesside University website for more details!
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