To ensure that patients receive high quality safe care it is essential that nurses, midwives and healthcare practitioners who work in sexual and reproductive health, contraception and HIV settings have the appropriate qualifications, knowledge, competence and skills.
Sexual health covers a wide range of services as demonstrated by this umbrella diagram.
A nurse who provides contraception should have undertaken a course that includes theoretical knowledge and clinical placements so clinical competence can be assessed and demonstrated in that area of practice. A nurse working in HIV would need theoretical knowledge and placement experience relevant to that area of care. See: RCN subject guide for sexual health.
The RCN publication Sexual and reproductive health: education, training and career progression in nursing and midwifery, provides details of the courses and various education pathways into sexual and reproductive health, and signposts nurses and midwives to valuable information.
If you are looking for funding for courses the RCN Foundation provides a number of bursaries and scholarships each year. For more information, see: RCN Foundation.
The RCN Sexual Health Education Directory identifies the education, training and qualification requirements for registered nurses, midwives, health advisers and nursing associates as well as unregistered health care support staff working in sexual health.
The directory is designed for all those in sexual health from entry level through to advanced practice and from registered nurses to nursing associates and health care assistants.
The directory is split into sections:
Introduction - with information of introductory programmes for sexual health.
Part 1 - Education programmes for providing Sexual Health Services (SH) and Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) and HIV for entry level, intermediate and advanced level roles.
Part 2 - Education requirements for providing Sexual and Reproductive Health services in Primary care. Essential and desirable criteria.
Part 3 - Education programmes for Midwives and Nurses in working in abortion care. Essential and desirable criteria.
Part 4 - Education programmes for Sexual Health Advisors (SHA) who are also registered nurses. Essential and desirable criteria.
Part 5 - Education requirements for Nursing Associates (England only). Essential and desirable criteria.
Part 6 - Education requirements for Health Care support Workers Health Care Assistants Unregistered staff working in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care. Essential and desirable criteria.
Part 7 - Cervical Cytology – Education training and skills requirement for all areas of practice across England, Scotland Northern Ireland and Wales."The directory is not intended to provide a definitive list of all the courses available. There are locally run and commissioned courses available which provide overall awareness and an introduction to sexual health. These programmes may also provide opportunities for CPD and sharing good practice. They do not replace HEI / FSRH or BASHH approved programmes. Local providers and commissioners should be able to advise on local courses, how to access these and how they fit with individuals being able to gain wider knowledge and competence in sexual health."