April 14, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council is a regulatory body that exists to protect the health and wellbeing of the public. They set standards and a code of conduct that nurses and midwives are expected to meet and uphold in their working lives. The NMC is the nursing and midwifery regulator for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Islands.
The primary aim of the NMC is to safeguard patients and the public by ensuring midwives and nurses consistently deliver high quality healthcare in a variety of healthcare settings.
With this aim in mind, the NMC sets standards for education, to ensure that student nurses and midwives have the right skills and qualities when they graduate. They set standards, guidance and requirements for nursing and midwifery programmes of education across the UK and provide information and guidance to help student nurses and midwives understand the importance of professional conduct as students and as qualified, registered nurses or midwives.
Standards for education are also set right through nurses’ and midwives’ careers after the initial qualification. Ensuring that midwives and nurses continue to be fit to practise right through their career remains a key priority for the NMC. Midwives and nurses are expected to train continually and take part in learning activities to update their knowledge and skills.
In addition to setting and promoting standards of education and practice the NMC also maintains a register of all those who meet these standards and takes action when a midwife or nurse’s fitness to practise is called into question. If an allegation is made about a nurse or midwife that they do not meet the set standards for skills, education or behaviour, or that there is a problem with their work, the NMC will investigate and if necessary, act by removing the individual from the register either permanently or for a specific period of time.
The NMC keeps a register of all midwives and nurses practicing in the UK.
It is illegal to work as a nurse or midwife in the UK without being on the NMC register.
To be on the register, nurses and midwives must pay an annual fee and must also prove that they fulfil the NMC’s requirements for keeping their skills and knowledge up to date.
Registration must be done within 5 years of the course completion date. Those who do not complete their registration within 5 years of course completion, have to undertake a test to re-assess their competence or complete a pre-registration programme again.
This can be particularly important if you have obtained a dual qualification, for example if you are qualified as a social worker and a registered nurse. Many professionals in this situation do not register as a nurse within the mandatory 5 years as they may be focusing on social worker and are not practicing as a nurse or midwife. But if you do not register within five years, should you ever want to work as a nurse in the future, perhaps by undertaking a return to practice programme, you would not be able to unless you complete the competence reassessment test.