The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has published new post-registration standards for specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN) outlining the skills, knowledge and proficiencies that occupational health nurses (OHNs) who take this qualification and revalidation route need to demonstrate.
The standards have been published alongside new standards for specialist practice qualifications, and specifies how the education and training that leads to these qualifications should be delivered.
They emphasise the fact that nurses need to be able to work with a high degree of autonomy in order to provide timely support and care for people with wide-ranging needs.
OHNs who responded to a 16-week consultation into the proposed standards last year were largely supportive of them, and felt they were much easier to understand than the previous standards. Some commented that they would also help others understand what OHNs do and what occupational health is.
Professor Geraldine Walters, executive director of professional practice at the NMC, said the organisation was confident that these standards would provide nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to deliver excellent support and care.
“They reflect the growing responsibility and ambition of specialist community, and public health nursing, and will enable professionals to deliver expert clinical care. They will also assure the public that their specialist nurses have the necessary knowledge and competence to look after them,” she said.
“We look forward to seeing how these standards benefit professionals, people and communities across the UK. It is both exciting and appropriate that these post registration standards for community nursing are a forerunner to our future work to explore advanced practice.”
The core standards of proficiency for SCPHN apply to all fields of practice on the SCPHN part of the NMC register, which includes health visitors and school nurses alongside occupational health nurses.
They are grouped under six spheres of influence, and there is an explanation of what each sphere means for OHNs in particular:
- Autonomous specialist community public health nursing practice
- Transforming specialist community public health nursing practice: evidence, research, evaluation and translation
- Promoting human rights and tackling inequalities: assessment, surveillance and intervention
- Population health: enabling, supporting and improving health outcomes of people across the life course
- Advancing public health services and promoting healthy places, environments and cultures
- Leading and collaborating: from investment to action and dissemination.
The NMC said the standards of proficiency should be used to plan CPD as part of nurses’ revalidation. They can be used by OHNs to consider what knowledge and skills are needed to practise safely, and to reflect on their practice and identify any further learning needed.