Qualified nursing staff are an absolute necessity – and not just in times of crisis

Hubert Ertl

Dear readers

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the significance of healthcare and nursing staff to the forefront of public debate in a way we have never experienced before. The huge importance of sufficient quantitative capacities within the care and nursing sector has emerged alongside the realisation that well-qualified staff are especially required if the immense challenges are to be overcome.

This issue of BWP was conceived prior to the crisis, and the articles were written at a time when no one could have predicted the escalations that have occurred since the end of February 2020. Nevertheless, high-quality training for nurses remains a pertinent question regardless of times of crisis and has been an object of keen discussion in Germany over recent years.

Shaping nursing in a way that is fit for the future

The starting point for this issue of BWP is the new Nursing Professions Act, which entered into force on 1 January 2020 and, for the first time, creates a nationally standardised framework for generalist nursing training. The intention behind this law is to pursue the further development of the nursing professions in a way that is fit for the future via a permeable training system which aims to impart competencies in caring for people of all age groups across all nursing settings. The associated structural changes to training are reflected both in new frameworks for practical and theoretical training and in new training and examination regulations. The new law is also creating new requirements with regard to cooperation between learning venues and for the training of practical instructors and nursing teachers. The focus now needs to be on imbuing all of these aspects with life and on systematically implementing the new approaches.

New tasks for BIBB

For the first time, the new Nursing Professions Act assigns BIBB a remit in an area of training that lies outside the BBiG/HwO [Vocational Training Act/Crafts and Trades Regulations Code]. BIBB has established a new Division for this purpose. Its task is to create support measures for training practice, develop instruments for permanent observation, design and support an extramural research programme, carry out public relations work and deal with structural and content questions relating to vocational and higher education training courses in nursing.

A further important function will be to assist the Specialist Commission convened by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and the Federal Ministry of Health, which has been assigned tasks such as the drawing up of framework plans for nursing training following its redesign.

The reforms and their realisation will need to be accompanied by well-founded and meaningful evaluation research if all of these innovations are to be put on a firm footing.

Extensive networking with representatives from practice will also be required in order to back up implementation of the new governance instruments and curricular stipulations and to develop solutions for questions and problems that still need to be addressed.

Awareness amongst the general population of the demanding and responsible work carried out by nurses is unlikely ever to have been higher than today. We should use this window of opportunity to bring about a rapid advancement of the reforms that have been instigated, to profile nursing as an attractive occupational field and thus accord the profession the value it deserves within society.


Prof. Dr. Hubert Ertl, Director of Research and Deputy President of BIBB


Translation from the German original (published in BWP 2/2020): Martin Kelsey, GlobalSprachTeam, Berlin

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