The fact that nursing is now a graduate occupation doesn’t always mean that patients will benefit.
According to the Chief Executive at a London NHS Trust 1 in 3 of these graduate nurses are rejected because they fail simple numeracy and literacy tests. They have to pass tests in compassion (which is part of the UK Nursing Vision) as well but 83% of candidates from one London University failed in at least one of the three tests.
The tests are based on simple drug calculations which nurses need to know so that they can dispense medication safely.
The Chief Executive said that “while many nurses were well-trained and compassionate more should be done by universities taking responsibility for these basic skills and it should’t be left to the employing Trust to teach basic maths”.
At another London NHS Foundation Trust 15% of its nursing applicants failed similar drug calculation tests.
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said “modern nursing requires high standards in numeracy and literacy so it is vital that these skills are properly assessed at the recruitment stage”.
Professor Ieuan Ellis, Vice-chairman of the Council of Deans of Health which represents universities which train nurses, denied that graduates were ill-prepared for work on the wards. He said “UK data shows that between 81% and 100% go on to graduate=level jobs (and) if there was evidence of a widespread problem we’d be happy to follow it up but this view is simply not backed up by the data“.
Well it is at those two trusts and who do you believe, the employer or someone with a vested interest in running nursing courses?
The Sunday times gave examples of the test questions which are like these below.
- A patient is prescribed 30mg of a drug which comes in 15mg tablets. How many tablets should the patient receive?
- Another patient is prescribed 50mg of a drug which comes in 25mg tablets. How many should the patient be given?
- A drug comes in 2.5mg tablets. How many would you give a patient who needs 12.5 mg?