COVID-19 pandemic shows why education, learning and development are more important than ever

 Susan Masters 11 Sep 2020

This week I felt privileged to address the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Coronavirus to discuss what lessons we can learn from the Government’s handling of this pandemic.

A full public inquiry is the only way to determine how prepared our infrastructure, and the systems that enable it, were for this pandemic.  

Many things that we take for granted in health and care may need to change once this pandemic has abated. I told MPs like Layla Moran, Clive Lewis, Dr Lisa Cameron and more that nursing staff have played a central role in the UK’s response to this pandemic. 

I made clear nursing organisations and leaders need to play a key part in the investigation into how our systems can improve.  

Every member of the nursing team understands how important reflection, learning and development are to our practice. 

That is why a central pillar of the RCN’s work is education, learning and development. Since 1919, the RCN has been at the side of every nurse, student and teacher alike, as our profession has adapted and modernised with every scientific discovery.  

Earlier this year, the RCN announced it would collaborate with its partner, the RCN Foundation and RCNi, to develop a three-year UK-wide education, learning and development strategy to underpin the future of health and care professions.  

The vision is to provide leadership and influence within health and social care, through excellent quality education, learning and development. This strategy will empower nursing by providing evidence-based guidelines that support the UK future health care workforce requirements.

In July, we asked members to help design this strategy so it supports nursing innovation, leadership and professional practice. An overwhelming majority of those who contacted us with their priorities agreed with our proposed vision.  

Members want the RCN to provide different ways of learning; on the job, ‘off-the-job’, online. Members want to see accredited courses, recourse they can access online with evidence, support and guidance. Members want the RCN to work with educational teams across sectors so care is safe and effective. Most of all, members want to know these resources are available to all, not dependent on their registration status or their employer.  

By engaging with our membership, our strategy will align behind priorities determined by nursing staff, for nursing staff.  

Nursing staff will continue to be integral to redesigning and revolutionising services. This feedback makes sure we can equip them with the skills and knowledge to do just that.  

It’s not to late to have your views on education and learning heard. Add your feedback and encourage your peers to do the same.

Susan Masters

Susan Masters

RCN Director of Nursing, Policy and Public Affairs

Susan has been in her current role since December 2019. She has been a registered nurse for 29 years. Susan trained as a Registered General Nurse at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, qualifying in 1991, staying there post-graduation to work on acute wards and the coronary care unit.

Susan later moved to Great Ormond Street Hospital to become dual trained as a Registered Sick Children's Nurse. Returning to the South West region, Susan studied health visiting at the University of the West of England and, after qualifying, worked as a health visitor for many years in Somerset.

She had many years' experience in senior leadership roles, including regional roles and as an associate director of nursing and quality in a South West clinical commissioning group before joining the RCN in February 2018 taking up the role of regional director for the South West region. She is a graduate of the NHS Leadership Academy, gaining an MSc in Senior Leadership.

Page last updated - 11/09/2020