(I Found these outside a toy shop, couldn’t help but find them entertaining)
Despite the expense, slight location isolation (still missing my four wheels) and that people just don’t seem to smile around here (going for run, you nod acknowledge say good morning, etc…nothing, blank stare through..) this place is beautiful and I have never experienced cars stopping so far in advance for you to cross the road. We are talking you just have to be near a crossing or even look at it and they will stop. That never happens in the UK.
The week just gone did allow me to have a meeting with our academic link here at the University of Stavanger (UiS) and I was able to gain some enlightenment on the structure and general situation for nursing here in Stavanger.
Student nurses here at UiS (which I have discovered is a common thing in Norway generally) train as general nurses. They do not specialise unless they take on a masters. There are no specific adult, child, mental health or learning disability nurses training at an undergraduate level.
Their placement and theory time like ours is split 50/50 and they have placements in throughout their three years. They have one placement in there first year in which all students go to a nursing home. Students do not enter a hospital environment until there second year, where, continuing into there third year, they undertake placements in medical, surgical, community and mental health settings. Unlike our system they do not have anything that resembles a management placement. The end of their third year consists of them carrying out their thesis (dissertation) and then going on a six week elective. This I found a very interesting deviation, as up until this point we share many similarities in the structure of our training to Norway. This has brought me to think thus far, that, in this instance, student nurses in the UK are prepared and exposed to a far greater amount of leadership and management training and experience than our Norwegien counterparts. What will be very interesting to see is if this has any reflection in practice. I also hope to find out when I have a greater exposure in practice, to understand why that is.
I mentioned that we are similar in our training structure. This is the case, however one other element which does deviate slightly is that their theory and practice assessments are given the same weight as each other. In the UK, and in Nottingham I can only directly relate this, our placement grading makes up a far smaller proportion of our final grade. This also only came in in the year I started my training (2012), as until then, your performance in practice held no direct influence over your final grading. Personally, I prefer this over the current system we have. I feel that your ability and performance in practice should count for a far greater amount in your degree than it currently does. To give an example, each semester at UiS you get 20 ETC (European Transfer Credits though it goes up to 30 in the third year), and a practice block is weighted at 10 ECTs the same as a theory block.
The students here at UiS have a similar work load when it comes to assessment, however, what is most obvious from the offset is that exams are used more frequently. I tend to feel that we have death by written assignment, and that a more balanced way of assessing students would not go amiss.
Nurse education here in Norway is potentially undergoing a radical change. At present there is a national curriculum set, a bit like the NMC sets in the UK, which every institution has to follow. There is a greater North and South divide in Norway, with Northern areas and districts (those outside of a main city) not having the full range of services on offer. With Norway being a much larger and longer country than the UK, things here are very spread out and the current thinking is that the curriculum is to strict, and instead, to hand over control of the curriculum to individual universities and colleges. There would still be a minimum standard set, but it would be far more flexible. I can see the benefits of doing this, however, I can see that this might produce a much greater variance in the experiences and abilities of nurses on qualifying. How do you govern and ensure that patient care is going to be of a high standard from nurses no matter where they have trained, if the educational standards and training are not on an equal footing?
I could go into a list of the clinical skills students get taught/are expected to be able to perform, but I am currently still wading through the pack which details them. Trying to decipher the differences and understand the system may be something I get a greater understanding off in practice. Plus I would really like to get mentors and qualified nurses opinions here about where they think about the the diversity, amount and importance of those clinical skills taught.
I will leave you with a nice little statistic which has become one of the most obvious things I have noticed since I have been here. People generally are of of a slim disposition. Despite the rates for men and women regarding being overweight or obese on the rise, they currently only sit at about 21% for women and 33% for men (Statistics Norway, 2013). Compare this to the UK where 57% of women and 67% of men are overweight or obese (Public Health England, 2o14). Now that is quite a contrast. To be honest, you can rarely go out anywhere without seeing people out walking/running/or pavement skiing (no I am not joking, think wheels on the bottom of skis and then just push yourself along). It will be interesting to see the rates of diabetes and cardiovascular conditions here compared to that of the UK. I really cannot wait to start in practice. I have a feeling there are going to be some massive contrasts (I have already been tipped off about the lack of paper work compared to the UK, this excites me).