We have come a long way in the UK over the past ten years towards our goal of meeting the educational needs of nurses specialising in adult endocrinology. Endocrine nurses are now able to access annual training updates and attend specific nurse-led sessions at scientific meetings thanks to the ongoing work undertaken by the Society for Endocrinologys nurse committee.
It is therefore time to turn our attention to how we can encourage nurses to want to specialise in endocrinology and to start to prepare them for such a role before rather than after they find themselves working in this field. One way to do this is to ignite their interest in endocrinology while they are still students. With this aim in mind the first undergraduate course in adult endocrine nursing in the UK was developed and introduced as part of the Bachelor of Nursing (Hons) programme at Edinburgh University for the 2011/12 academic session. The course, which runs over ten weeks, is available as an Honours option to students in their third and fourth years and is delivered as a series of lectures and tutorials. The content covers specific endocrine conditions and alongside these critically explores issues such as compliance with prescribed treatment, quality of life, patient support and patient self-management, the role of the specialist nurse and nurse-led clinics. It is taught primarily by an endocrine nurse/lecturer with some specific input from visiting speakers. In addition to the formal taught aspects students are encouraged to attend endocrine out-patient clinics, observe pituitary surgery and attend local patient support group meetings as well as national patient conferences.
Fifteen students have now successfully completed the course. Course evaluation has been extremely positive. Of the seven final year students, two are now proactively seeking endocrine nursing positions to apply for on graduation.
Declaration of interest: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research project.
Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sector.