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Nursing programme responds to nation-wide need

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Professor Jayne Donaldson
Professor Jayne Donaldson

The University of Stirling has responded to a need for nurses in Scotland with the launch of a return to practice nursing programme.

Stirling is one of three Scottish universities to benefit from the Scottish Government's Return to Practice Funding Scheme, developed in response to a need to increase the number of registered nursing staff in employment.

Welcoming its first cohort, the new programme at Stirling allows nurses and midwives in Scotland who have taken a break from employment and lapsed in Nursing and Midwifery Council registration, to re-enter the profession.

Professor Jayne Donaldson, Head of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Stirling, said: “This vital new programme was developed in response to Scottish Government initiatives to boost numbers of nursing staff in Scotland and I believe is a great step forward in developing the country’s future workforce.

“Nurses and midwives leave the profession for a number of reasons and it’s essential that they have a clear way to re-enter employment, build their skills back up and learn new practices. We have worked closely with our NHS partners to ensure the curriculum meets the needs of today’s health service and our students go on to deliver the best possible patient care.”

The new programme which lasts for 15 weeks and a minimum of 300 hours, depending on individual students’ time away from practice, has 24 students enrolled who will complete placements in NHS areas across Scotland.

The students include nurses interested in returning to the fields of adult care, mental health and health visiting.

Professor Donaldson continued: “It’s extremely encouraging to see such a diverse and motivated group of students who will enhance nursing practice when they complete the programme join us at the University of Stirling.

 “This new programme is an expansion of our post-qualifying education which includes a health visitor programme launch last year and is becoming increasingly important in meeting health care demands. We are committed to advancing learning in nursing and midwifery and believe this return to practice nursing programme will help enhance care and wellbeing for patients in Scotland.”

Professor Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, said: “I welcome the work under way in Stirling University to retrain former nurses and midwives under our national Return to Practice scheme. The experience of former nurses and midwives is a unique asset that we can’t overlook. It’s therefore a priority of this Government to encourage these talented individuals to come back and join our health and social care workforce. The combination of online and classroom provision is innovative and will help to widen access to education by enabling students to participate via distance learning.

“Earlier this year we announced investment of £450,000 over three years to encourage former nurses and midwives back into the profession.  This initiative has already generated significant interest across Scotland. The Scottish Government initially set a target of 75 funded Return to Practice places in 2015/16, but we anticipate that nearly 200 former registrants will take up the opportunity this year. This scheme is one of a range of measures the Scottish Government is taking to support the development of the flexible and well-trained workforce needed to meet the needs of the people of Scotland, both now and in the future.”

One student starting her journey back to nursing at the University of Stirling is 36-year-old Liza Young of Kirkcaldy.

Liza, said: “I qualified as a nurse in 2004 and worked in a medical ward for a few years until I had my daughter who was born with cerebral palsy. I carried on working as a nurse for almost two years but it became increasingly difficult. In 2009 I left employment, deciding to look after my daughter fulltime.

“I’m now at a stage where I can return to work – my son is 16 and my daughter is now nine years old and no longer requires full time care. I have a great personal support network and am delighted to have this opportunity, through the University of Stirling, to go back into nursing. I am completing the return to practice programme in adult nursing and hope to work in medical assessment and cardiology when I return to work.”

Notes for editors
Background information

Media enquiries to Corrie Campbell, Communications Officer on 01786 466 169 or

Return to Practice (Nursing) Programme
The Return to Practice (RTP) Programme within the School of Health Sciences at the University of Stirling has been developed for approval in response to the Scottish Government initiative to increase the number of registered staff in employment (Scottish Government 2013; 2015). More information at The University of Stirling Return to Practice (Nursing).

University of Stirling
The University of Stirling is ranked first in Scotland and 12th in the UK for Health Sciences in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Stirling is committed to carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society.

Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling’s research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.

At almost 50-years-young, Stirling retains a pioneering spirit and a passion for innovation. Its scenic central Scotland campus – complete with a loch, castle and golf course – is home to more than 11,000 students and 1400 staff representing 115 nationalities. This includes an ever-expanding base for postgraduate study.

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