Report finds lack of clarity in occupational health training courses

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The current wide variety of occupational health training courses “reduces clarity for employers and potential students”, a report from the National School of Occupational Health and Health Education England has concluded

The report, “Mapping the Landscape of Occupational Health Training – Informing the Future”, was generated through phone interviews with programme leads and a focus group of practice teachers.

It argued that, while there was broad choice in terms of training provision, there were also “concerns” regarding the sustainability of Nursing and Midwifery Council-approved courses.

Funding for nurses to undertake courses was “a key barrier” to take-up, it highlighted. “Many are self-funding and this relies on personal circumstances and ability to make that commitment.”

Another barrier was a shortage of practice teachers for students. “This is due to the requirements that the nurse is on Part 3 of the register and is an accredited practice teacher. The training for this includes 30 days of protected learning time”, the report said.

“Some employers are not able or prepared to supply this level of support to gain a qualified teacher, as time is also required to support the student learners they have responsibility for.

“Practice teachers supporting students not within their departments report often having to use their own time and financially support their role as a practice teacher,” it added.

Practice placements were often difficult to come by and there was a shortage of future lecturers, with the relative salaries paid within academia compared with those in practice being seen as a key barrier.

There was also often a lack of clarity as to how practice teachers might be able to develop their role into a lecturing position.

The report made a number of recommendations, including a need to:

  • look at whether or not the current provision to support failing students is adequate;
  • develop “clear curriculum requirements” for the achievement of occupational health training accreditation;
  • look at how the current workforce is being prepared for academic roles, and factors that may make these roles more attractive;
  • engage with the NMC regarding its future vision for SCPHN programmes “so consideration for future occupational health training can be informed”;
  • investigate if the apprenticeship levy can be used to provide funding for OH courses; and
  • consider whether or not OH training placements for nurses could be centrally coordinated.
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