Startpage for Swedish National Agency for Higher Education

Please note! The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was closed down on 31 December 2012. Instead two new agencies have been established: the Swedish Council for Higher Education and the Swedish Higher Education Authority. This website will continue to operate as the new agencies will have links to information it contains.  

Report 2010: 5 R

Specialist nursing programmes — what kind of qualifications?

This is a summary in English. The report is available only in Swedish.

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education has been asked by the Government to study how the Qualifications Ordinance can be worded to ensure that specialist nursing programmes correspond to the requirements posed in the health services. This study has mainly been undertaken in various meetings with the higher education institutions concerned, representatives of care providers and the organisations that represent nurses.

Changes now affecting the health services involve new procedures and new tasks so that different skills are required. The National Agency finds that there is consensus among the parties concerned on the need for additional training for nurses but major differences of opinion about how programmes should be designed. It is, however, clear that if nurses are to be able to keep up with changes in the health services, their specialist programmes need to be very flexible.

The National Agency notes that the Qualifications Ordinance in the Higher Education Ordinance provides a framework that should be robust and comprehensive. Specialisation for nurses within the parameters of the Qualifications Ordinance may take the form of either a professional or general qualification. The National Agency also notes that there are misunderstandings of the provisions of the Qualifications Ordinance when it comes to the award of a both a professional and general qualification on the same merits. Among the different conceivable ways of developing a professional qualification, the alternative that most closely meets the wishes expressed in the study is one with no determined specialisations. The alternative would be a nursing specialisation in the form of a general qualification (a one or two-year master's qualification), which offers a great degree of flexibility. Both categories of qualification have their advantages and drawbacks and may be appropriate for different purposes.

The National Agency notes that there is great concern about the quality of programmes.  To assure quality it is important for the higher education institutions to cooperate so that programmes are only offered by institutions that have great expertise in a given field.

One requirement if programmes are to be of a high standard and relevant for the health services is also that cooperation between the higher education institution and care providers is considerably better than today. This applies both to the design of the programmes and the need of nurses with specialist training. The National Agency therefore requests the Government to assign it the task of studying how higher education institutions and care providers are actually cooperating.

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