Are current quality systems in nurse education fit for purpose: Can we really be sure of current standards?
The issue of ensuring national and international standards of nurse education is an ever present debate. The question of what aspects of quality are to be measured seems to be assumed and taken for granted rather than theoretically or empirically informed. Are standards about educational processes or outcomes; or even the relationship between structure, process and these outcomes? This raises the most fundamental questions about public safety, use of public finances in quality systems and academic autonomy. There appears to be some tension between key stakeholders around the relative roles of Universities and the statutory bodies such as, in the United Kingdom, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and in Queensland Australia, the Queensland Nursing Council (QNC, http:// www.qnc.qld.gov.au). To put it crudely but pretty accurately, it is the need for power and influence of the great and good of nurse education, versus the protection of the public and the wish for a national curriculum and assessment. The latter need to be combined with a transparent, evidence-based system of safeguards controlled by statutory bodies or the Royal Colleges.