First published in 1978: Smith J.P. (1978) Higher education and nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 3(3), 219–220

  1. Top of page
  2. First published in 1978: Smith J.P. (1978) Higher education and nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 3(3), 219–220
  3. References

Facilities for advanced basic and post-basic nursing education within institutions of higher education are becoming increasingly commonplace throughout the world.

Opportunities were seized by North American nurses as long ago as 1899 when a course in hospital economics for qualified nurses was inaugurated at Teachers College, Columbia University. This was followed, in 1909, by the creation of the first university-controlled school of nursing at the University of Minnesota (Davis 1966). These kinds of educational facilities are now available to nurses practically everywhere in North America (Smith 1974). It took the nursing profession in Europe somewhat longer, nearly half a century, to inaugurate facilities for education in institutions of higher education. Turkey was the first European country to provide facilities for undergraduate nursing education, followed by the United Kingdom. Iceland launched an undergraduate course in 1973, but several other European countries now have university-based post-basic courses (Hall 1974).

The search for bases for advanced nursing education programmes continues internationally. The nursing profession in Kenya has recently come out strongly in favour of degree level nursing ‘in order to improve the present nursing education standards, and to improve the nursing care standards’ (Kenya Nursing Journal 1977). Elsewhere, in Jamaica, the innovation of a university-based nurse practitioner programme, ‘the first clinically oriented programme to be placed under the aegis of an institution of higher education’, has been warmly welcomed by the nursing profession (Burnett 1977).

I was somewhat concerned, however, to read the comments of an American nurse, following a study carried out to compare the functions of graduates of American associate degree and baccalaureate programmes. She argues that many will become disillusioned with nursing and unhappy with their jobs until graduates of different kinds of programmes ‘are utilized according to their preparation... If associate and baccalaureate nurses are not being utilized differently, different kinds of education preparation for nursing practice must be questioned’ (Hogstel 1977). Whilst I would agree that education programmes must always be questioned if they are to continue to provide adequate, appropriately trained nurses capable of functioning in a rapidly changing society, I would challenge Dr Hogstel's basic premise. Certainly a study of the career patterns of the graduates of the University of Manchester's nursing programme appears ‘to explode the myth that nurses who graduate from university courses in nursing are unwilling to take first level posts in hospital or community... The young graduate nurse is very aware that she/he needs to consolidate the experience gained in the basic course and develop expertise in management and organizational skills before seeking promotion’ (Marsh 1976). This view has also been supported by a follow-up study of Edinburgh University's nursing graduates. Furthermore, they appear to stay predominantly in nursing and to select posts in clinical nursing (Scott Wright et al. 1977).

Undoubtedly, both the quality of nursing care and the standing of the nursing profession will be enhanced by a continued international expansion of basic and post-basic nursing programmes within institutions of higher education, provided the products of the programmes continue to relate to the real world of health care and avoid the danger of becoming intellectually arrogant.


  1. Top of page
  2. First published in 1978: Smith J.P. (1978) Higher education and nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 3(3), 219–220
  3. References
  • Burnett S.M. (1977) Editorial. The Jamaican Nurse 17, 3.
  • Davis F. (1966) The Nursing Profession: Five Sociological Essays. Wiley, London.
  • Hall D.C. (1974) Higher Education in Nursing: the European Experience. Report of the second annual open conference of the Association of Integrated Degree Courses in Nursing. AIDCN, London.
  • Hogstel M.O. (1977) Associate and baccalaureate degree graduates: do they function differently? American Journal of Nursing 77, 15981600.
  • Kenya Nursing Journal (1977) Memorandum presented to the National Committee on Educational Objectives and Policies 6, 912.
  • Marsh N. (1976) Summary report of a study of career patterns of diplomates/graduates of the undergraduate nursing course in the University of Manchester, England. Joumal of Advanced Nursing 1, 539542.
  • Scott Wright M., Gilmore M. & Tierney A. (1977) The nurse/graduate in nursing: preliminary-findings of a follow-up study of former students of the University of Edinburgh degree/nursing programme. Health Bulletin 35, 317323.
  • Smith J.P. (1974) Nursing in North America. Nursing Mirror 139, 5356.