A major difference between pre-registration nurse education in the UK as distinct from most other European countries is the existence of discrete branches of nursing. The package of four specialty areas of adult nursing, children's nursing, learning disability, and mental health nursing do not exist at pre-registration level in the majority of other European countries. The Republic of Ireland offers pre-registration education in general, mental health and learning disability nursing, and not children's nursing. Intergovernmental support was given to the idea of a generalist nurse in 1988. Such a change in nurse education in the UK would have major implications for patients, nurses and the nursing profession, and requires careful consideration by all nurses in education and practice. This paper presents some of the key arguments for and against the adoption of a generalist approach to pre-registration nurse education in the UK.
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