The discourse on nursing education in the article "Take care with our health care" (January 28) and the letter "Train nurses on the job" (February 13) has sparked discussion of the profession's development in Hong Kong. Debate as to how nursing should move forward is not recent. In the early 1980s the profession fought as one to have nurses educated in universities. With the commitment and hard work of many in the profession, nursing in Hong Kong has succeeded in transforming considerably in the last decade through the transfer of its basic education to universities. Nursing is striving to establish itself as a "one-level" discipline in order to ensure that the public has the highest quality of nursing care. Nursing services are no longer differentiated according to levels of registration, and this is consistent with the worldwide direction. In fact, successful measures have been taken here, such as the conversion of enrolled nurses to registered nurses.
Any proposal to reintroduce another level of nurses other than registered nurses is counter-productive to the development of nursing in Hong Kong and will negatively impact the quality of health care. It is not only the number of nurses that we should focus on but the quality and level of professional practice expected of the profession. Hong Kong people deserve quality care from well-educated, capable, critical and compassionate nurses; not just loving, dutiful and dedicated people who are mostly only trained on the job. Thus, we have to stand united and not turn back the clock by giving up what the profession has fought for so hard - a university-based education for registered nurses.