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Fields of nursing: do we need them, what should they be and when should nurses choose theirs?
  1. David Barrett
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Barrett
    , Director of Pre-Registration Nurse Education, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK; d.i.barrett{at}

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This month’s Opinion relates to an EBN twitter chat that explored the value of fields of nursing and their future within the United Kingdom (


In the UK, preregistration nurse education provides a route into one of the four ‘nursing fields’—Adult, Child, Learning Disabilities and Mental Health. Student nurses select their chosen field at the time of application to University, and then complete a degree (or higher) level programme of study focused on that field (albeit with some shared elements across fields). This early choice of field therefore shapes a nurse's practice focus for their subsequent career.

The rationale for this field-based structure to the registered nurse workforce is a simple one—by providing entrants to the nursing profession with a skill set focused on a particular client group, they will be better able to provide specialist, evidence-based care. However, the current model is not without its critics. Most notably, the latest review of nurse education in the UK (entitled Shape of Caring) has suggested that the current system does not produce flexible practitioners with the transferable skills necessary to work with …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.