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First nurses embark on pioneering new Exeter programme

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in Learning disability, Mental health, News on 2nd October, 2019

The first intake of nurses embarked on a ground-breaking new pre-registration Masters programme at the University of Exeter last week.

Thirty pioneering student nurses are starting out on the four-year journey, which aims to develop outstanding future nursing leaders.

The Masters course has been developed in collaboration with patients, members of the public, and with nurses from Devon Partnership NHS Trust, and Northern Devon, the Royal Devon and Exeter, the Torbay and South Devon NHS Trusts.

Director of Nursing and Practice at Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Chris Burford, says: “All of the evidence tells us that our physical and mental health and wellbeing are inextricably linked – we have to look after both of them if we are to stay fit and well. This new course truly represents a major milestone. Until now, nurses have trained in either physical health or mental health. This masters programme will train and equip nurse leaders of the future who are dual-qualified in physical and mental health nursing. It is a huge, pioneering step forward and I very much hope that it signifies the direction of travel for the training of all tomorrow’s nurses.”

Professor David Richards, Head of Nursing at the University of Exeter, said: “Our NHS has been asking us to educate new nursing leaders. Our University of Exeter students are destined to become those leaders. They are already pioneers. Their education here at Exeter and with our NHS partners will teach them to deliver the highest quality, science-based, patient-centred, fundamental physical and mental health nursing care possible These are the behaviours that define the ‘Exeter Nurse’. This is, after all the standard of care everyone expects when we or our loved ones need a nurse.”

Nursing student Jess Speed, 24, from Bridgwater in Somerset, said she was “excited and motivated” to start the new programme. “It’s brilliant to be among the first intake, as we’ll be able to play a role in how the programme develops. It’s the future of nursing.” 

Fellow student Hayley Rich, 28, from Cullompton, said she was motivated to go into nursing after experiencing care within her family. “I’ve seen where nursing can be fantastic and also where there’s room for improvement. I’m excited to contribute to that positive change.” 

Exeter’s programme is unique. Its six ‘pillars’ ensure that patients and the public are always involved in nursing care. Mental and physical health are fully integrated throughout the programme: ‘no health without mental health’ is a core principle at Exeter. Students learn and emphasise the fundamental essentials of nursing care, and they are taught scientific thinking from day one.

Alison Marchbank, Senior Lecturer on the programme, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have recruited future nurses of such high calibre. Students are the future of our profession and our students are schooled from the outset in leadership skills so that they understand and will practice nursing in its true global trans-cultural context. Welcome to the University of Exeter and the start of an exciting life-long journey!”

Find out more about the Nursing programme here.