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Womens health: Current Work

The RCN is currently involved in or will be developing a variety of women's health related projects for 2021. 

Impact assessment of RCN Clinical Nurse Specialist in early pregnancy care project plan

The need to define specialist roles in nursing is an important step in articulating some more advanced roles for nurses. In 2017, the RCN published standards for Clinical Nurse Specialists working in early pregnancy care, see: Clinical Nurse Specialist in Early Pregnancy Care.

These standards were developed, with the belief that they would enable and empower the roles already in existence, including creating some equity across the arena, as well as outline nationally agreed standards for the future. They were also intended to facilitate career development, clarify specific skills development and outline the strategic nature of such roles. 

The RCN's Women’s Health Forum, in collaboration with the Association of Early Pregnancy Units (AEPU) are now undertaking an evaluation of how useful the standards were in developing this role for individuals across the UK, including what might further enhance the role in the future. It is also intended to consider how these standards might have enhanced overall service provision.

Making sense of women's health

This new online publication, being developed by the RCN's Women’s Health Forum, is designed for the non-specialist nurse. It will highlight awareness of conditions that women can experience, the likely outcomes, and how to guide them toward appropriate resources or treatment. The evidence around women's health is patchy and split into distinct areas; contraception, infertility, cancer and pregnancy, however there is very little that looks at all areas such as menstrual wellbeing, fibroids, endometriosis and PCOS. This can lead to a fragmented service and affect the care and advice given to women, often resulting in instances of on average seven years for a diagnosis of endometriosis. The RCN's Promoting Menstrual Wellbeing publication and Women's Health pocket guides  are useful quick reference guides to signs, symptoms and conditions, and it is hoped this new resource would build on these to support and help nurses to make sense of women's health and what symptoms may mean for women, as well as where to refer/direct women for further care and/or support.

Impact assessment of RCN career progression framework for fertility nursing

The RCN's Education and Career Progression Framework for Fertility Nursing was published in March 2018.

It was intended to enhance career progression though providing standards for developing fertility nursing care. The education and career progression framework was produced to raise standards of education within fertility nursing, as well as provide an assessment tool that could be implemented within the clinical environment to ensure that nurses were being assessed to a national standard.

A review of its implementation is being carried out by the RCN's Fertility Nursing Forum, to consider how it has been used and the impact within the clinical environment, to assess its effectiveness in improving access to training and learning opportunities, as well as the potential positive impact on patient outcomes.

Supporting Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Syndrome (PMDD)

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Syndrome( PMDD) are conditions that cause physical and mental symptoms that occur in the luteal or secretory phase of the menstrual cycle, between ovulation and start of menstruation.

The joint project between the RCN's Women’s Health Forum and the National Association of Premenstrual Syndromes (NAPS) will produce an A5 fact-sheet on PMS/PMDD that can be downloaded from the RCN's Promoting Menstrual Wellbeing pages and the NAPS website. The factsheet will raise awareness, support assessment and care and will link to current resources.

Transition from fertility to maternity care

Pregnancy following fertility treatment can be a challenging and an anxious time for expectant parents. Nursing and midwifery professionals involved in fertility and pregnancy care may lack knowledge of the processes that people have gone through to become pregnant (including surrogacy and use of donor gametes), and of the systems in place to support early pregnancy and maternity care. This can create frustration on the part of nurses and midwives, and unrealistic expectations and concerns for expectant parents. This project, planned jointly between the RCN's Midwifery and Fertility Nursing Forums, aims to provide guidelines to enhance the care of those pregnant following fertility treatment.

We are also planning 3 events for later in 2021

Please see the RCN Events and Forum webpages for further information.

  • Fertility Nursing Conference  - 2 November 2021
  • Midwifery Webinar – TBC 2021
  • Women’s Health Conference – 1 December 2021

RCN publications

For more publications, see: Women's Health publications

Womens health pocket guide 1

Women's health cards

An easy reference tool for nurses working in gynaecology, sexual and reproductive health.

Supported by the Association of Early Pregnancy Units, the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, the Wear White Again Hologic campaign and Verity The Polycystic Ovaries Self Help Group.

See: Women's Health Pocket Guide 2020

Page last updated - 19/03/2022