Across the UK, there are roughly 1.5 million people who are employed by the NHS with nurses making up a large majority (Marcovitch, 2016). Whether they are a general nurse, a speech therapist, or a pharmacist, each professional must be registered with an appropriate regulator and follow a number of regulations along with the general code of conduct. In this essay, I will be comparing and contrasting the principles and regulations of two care professions: A General Nurse registered with the NMC and an Occupational Therapist registered with the HCPC.
Firstly, how do you get in to either of these professions and what are they? A general nurse must complete a minimum three year training course in all aspects of nursing care. They must also be qualified in one of the four specialisms of nursing (adult, children, mental health, or learning disability) in which half of their degree will be spent either within a clinical or community setting as placement (Royal College of Nursing, n.d.). To become an occupational therapist you must complete an approved three or four year BSc (Hons) degree and further progress to a two year postgraduate Diploma or Masters degree. On the other hand, if you are already working in a senior support role in which occupational therapy plays a part, you can enrol in part-time courses with the support of your employer (Health Careers NHS, n.d.).
All medical professionals must register with one or more of the leading regulatory bodies. For example, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) which regulates nurses and midwives in the UK. It’s primary purpose is to protect the public and it is also responsible for maintaining standards and dealing with allegations of misconduct (Marcovitch, 2016). Should a general nurse wish to register then it would be best to do so within the first six months of graduating from a relevant university course in order for the university to send over the qualification details. They must also give a declaration of good health and of the person’s character. After this has been accepted, the applicant must fill in the relevant forms and sign a criminal conduct declaration. They must then revalidate their membership three years later and pay the renewal fee. In order to revalidate, they must be able to prove that they have completed a minimum number of hours in practice since last registering. Thirty-five of these hours must meet the standards for continuing personal development (CDP) and twenty of those must include some form of participatory learning. A valid record must be kept up to date and the applicant is able to decide which activities would be most useful to them whether this would be reviewing publications, mentoring in a specific skill, or attending a relevant course. If this has not been done then they must complete an approved return to practice program before the deadline. (The Code, 2015).
Another that could be chosen is the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). This is a body set up in order to protect service users and the public and the processes have been developed in full consultation with the public, health and social professionals and key stakeholders (HCPC, n.d.). While the processes are somewhat similar (such as applications being completed online), there are a number of differences. For this example, we will be looking at an occupational therapist who wishes to enrol. First, they will apply themselves with no need for support from their university. They must prove that they meet the professional standards set out. A health declaration and criminal declaration will be completed. To revalidate, it is done every two years instead of three. There is a three month renewal window that you must complete your revalidation within. Should this be missed, the applicant must reapply all over again. Once more, they must ensure that they have met the standards for CDP and a diary must be kept to prove this. They must demonstrate that said activities are a mixture of learning activities relevant to their current or future field of practice and ensure that it contributes to the quality of their practice and the service delivered. They may even be asked to present a written profile explaining how they have met the requirements set which must be written in their own words and supported with evidence (HCPC, n.d.).
A crucial part of each of these bodies is their code of conduct of which all professionals are expected to bide by. These clarify the organization’s principles and values that they wish their employees to follow and defines the behaviour expected of them (Ethics.org, n.d.). The NMC has four main points within their code of conduct: Prioritising people, practising effectively, preserving safety, and promoting professionalism and trust. The HCPC follows these points but has a few additions: Delegating appropriately, reporting concerns, being open when things go wrong, and keeping records of all work. You are to put the interests of the service user first. Their safety and care are a head concern and they must be treated with respect. It must be seen to that their rights are upheld and any discriminatory behaviours will be challenged. You must make sure that they are informed and that any information shared with other nurses is done so appropriately. Communication is vital. You are accountable for your own decisions and must be prepared to defend these. Each member must demonstrate a personal commitment to these standards and aim to uphold their reputation at all times. Should concerns arise, these must be reported. You are personally responsible for the way that you behave (HCPC, n.d.).