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Chris Gut
Chris Gut

Press Release - 17 March 2008

UK doctorate course kick-starts Swiss nurse practitioner training

An innovative doctorate-level course offered by a UK university has helped kick-start the development of nurse practitioner training in Switzerland.

Chris Gut, who manages a department of emergency medical services at a regional hospital in Switzerland, started a distance learning professional doctorate with the School for Health at the University of Bath in September 2005.

The course, which enables healthcare practitioners to develop research skills in a clinical setting, made him realise how the role of nurses could be used more effectively, as is the case within the UK.

This inspired him to write an article for the Swiss medical journal, Schweizerische Ärztezeitung, calling for the creation of nurse practitioners in the country’s medical provision.

Already established in the UK, USA and Australia, nurse practitioners can use their medical training to take on many of the roles traditionally occupied by doctors, such as health screening, prescribing routine medicines and therapies and diagnosing simple complaints.

Following a lengthy argument in the Swiss medical press, nursing institutions have started discussions about the implementation of nurse practitioner training.

If it goes ahead, this will help create greater recognition for the role nurses play in delivering healthcare and establish a greater standing for nursing within the healthcare community, says Mr Gut.

“Professional doctorate level training is unknown in Switzerland and it is quite rare for anyone in my position to have studied at this level,” said Mr Gut.

“For me, one of the major effects of the training was the realisation of the important role that nurse practitioners can play in a healthcare setting.

“This made me think that greater support should be given to developing the nurse practitioner role in Switzerland, which is why I raised the issue in the journal.

“It inspired a major discussion in the medical community which ultimately led to a large training institute starting discussions about developing a nurse practitioner programme.

“I believe that this will be an important development in the provision of medical services in Switzerland and will lead to an improvement in the nursing role, enhancing their status within the medical community.”

Dr Candy McCabe, Director of Studies for the Professional Doctorate in Healthcare at the University of Bath and a nurse who completed a PhD in 2004, said: “We have seen a steady increase in the role and responsibilities in UK nursing over recent years.

“The professional doctorate in healthcare offers nurses and other healthcare professionals the opportunity to gain formal recognition for their skills and knowledge in a clinical research setting.

“This can be advantageous for career development towards consultant practitioner status, as well as the provision of enhanced clinical services.

“It is great to see that the course has inspired Chris to bring about change in Switzerland that could improve the standing and recognition of nurses there.”

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