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Swansea Medical School launches DSN Masters course

By Editor
1st August 2018
Care planning, Education

Swansea University Medical School has launched a new Masters programme to help address the shortage of diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs) in the NHS.

The MSc Diabetes Practice course has been specifically designed for healthcare professionals – particularly current or future DSNs – wanting to specialise in the field of diabetes. This is a modular distance learning course, offering healthcare professionals the opportunity to graduate with an MSc Diabetes Practice Postgraduate degree having studied either full or part-time.

The course not only includes specialised training, diagnostic and assessment-based knowledge but also encompasses personal and professional development, reflective practice and problem-based learning.

Leading nurse consultant Debbie Hicks recently called the state of diabetes nursing “extremely worrying” and revealed that the nursing organisation TREND-UK, of which Debbie is co-chair, has been working hard to encourage more nurses into the diabetes care profession.

The DSN role is vital for people with diabetes and DSNs have been facing overwhelming challenges. The workforce is getting smaller while the demand and case complexity is getting bigger Dr Rebecca Thomas

Results from the 2017 National Diabetes Inpatient Audit (NaDIA) have shown there is a concern as more than a quarter of hospital sites do not have dedicated diabetes inpatient specialist nurses.

The latest Diabetes UK Workforce Survey (2016) highlighted that DSN workload has increased in volume and complexity since the previous 2012 poll. However, almost a third of DSN posts have been cut or downgraded, or many left unfilled due to recruitment difficulties. The findings have also shown that 57 per cent of current DSNs will be eligible for retirement within the next 10 years.

That is why the Swansea University Medical School has decided to do something to close the training gap, because at the moment learning about the intricacies of the DSN role is vocational.

Dr Rebecca Thomas, Dr Sarah Prior, and leading UK consultant diabetologist Professor Stephen Bain, from ABM University Health Board have worked together to develop the distance learning programme.

Dr Thomas said: “The challenge of the recruitment, retention and training of diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs) was highlighted at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Diabetes last year. 

“The DSN role is vital for people with diabetes and DSNs have been facing overwhelming challenges. The workforce is getting smaller while the demand and case complexity is getting bigger.”

Dr Partha Kar, consultant diabetologist at Portsmouth NHS trust, added: “Diabetes specialist nurses (DSN) are a vital part of the multidisciplinary team – perhaps even the lynchpin of diabetes specialist teams. Part of the £40 million NHS England diabetes transformation fund has been spent on increasing the number of DSNs.

“However, currently, there is no standard qualification for DSNs, making it difficult for people living with diabetes to know the level of expertise their nurses have.

“In order to improve outcomes, it is important that the diabetes multidisciplinary team ensures their knowledge and skills keep up with the latest advancements in therapies and technology in order to best meet the needs of their patients.”

Dr Sarah Prior said: “We have designed the programme to fit around the lives of busy health professionals. As well as being offered as an online distance learning course, we can also offer the option of part-time Master’s, Postgraduate Diplomas and Postgraduate Certificates and individual CPD modules. There are also many funding options including bursaries, postgraduate loans and medical school scholarships.”

Professor Keith Lloyd, head of the Medical School at Swansea University, said: “As a top three UK Medical School, we are working to ensure the wealth of diabetes expertise we have within the school has an impact, both in terms of research to develop new drugs and treatments but also to upskill our NHS workforce. We are delighted to have just launched our first distance learning MSc in Diabetes Practice which starts in September.

“We are also gaining recognition internationally with Professor David Owens, Diabetes Research Unit Cymru Lead for Retinopathy, being shortlisted in The Royal College of Physicians(RCP) 2018 Excellence in Patient Care Awards. The awards recognise outstanding clinical activity that contributes to excellent patient care.”

To find out more about the MSc in Diabetes Practice at Swansea University Medical School email: study@swansea.ac.ukor call +44 (0)1792 602 741.

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