An evaluation of an educational programme to prepare family health nurses
West, Bernice J. M.
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In 1998 the World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe proposed a new type of community based nurse called the family health nurse (FHN). Although it was initially envisaged that 18 European countries would take part in the development of the FHN role through parallel processes of education and implementation, Scotland has been significantly ahead of other countries in enacting this plan. A pilot project involving community nurses from four remote and rural regions of Scotland was conducted between 2001 and 2003. A Scottish University was commissioned to provide a degree-level course for registered nurses with a minimum of two years post-registration qualifying experience. This paper summarises the main findings and issues arising from an external research evaluation of this educational programme. The programme was found to differ substantially in focus and format from other specialist community nursing programmes available in Scotland. Moreover there were key differences from the curriculum proposed by WHO Europe, in that there was more grounding in North American family nursing models and less focus on management and leadership. This customised degree programme provides a precedent for other educational providers in the UK to reconsider their approach to specialist practice degree level education.