Graduates from dual qualification courses, registered nurse and health visitor: a career history study

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Drennan, Vari M ; Porter, Elizabeth M J ; Grant, Robert L (2013)

BACKGROUND: Educationalists and managers internationally are challenged to find ways of preparing, recruiting early in their careers, and retaining nurses into public health roles in primary care. Public health nursing qualifications are post-initial nurse registration in the United Kingdom as in some other countries. In the mid twentieth century there were a number of innovative programmes of dual qualification: registered nurse and health visitor (the United Kingdom term for public health nurse). OBJECTIVE: To investigate the career histories of graduates from courses integrating both nursing and health visitor qualifications. DESIGN: An observational, survey study. SETTING: The United Kingdom. PARTICIPANTS: A purposive sample of graduates from integrated registered nurse and health visitor programmes, 1959-1995, from one University. METHODS: Self completed, anonymous, survey sent to graduates, with contact details known to the University and through snowballing techniques, in 2011. FINDINGS: Forty five women (56%), graduates in all four decades, returned the survey. A significant majority (82%) had taken up health visitor posts on completing the course. Over their careers, 42% of all jobs held were as health visitors. Only four never worked in a post that required a health visiting qualification. Most had undertaken paid work throughout their careers that focused on aspects of public health, often linked to child, maternal and/or family wellbeing. Many held teaching/lecturing and management posts at some point in their career. Those holding management posts were more likely to report leaving them as a result of organisational re-structuring or redundancy than those in non-management posts. CONCLUSIONS: Courses that prepare students to be both nurses and health visitors result in a majority of graduates who take up posts as health visitors on qualification and subsequently. Nurse education planners may find this evidence of value in determining ways of providing a future workforce for public health nursing.
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