Jan 4 2013

Enough hands – enough heads?

When vocational education to be both vocational and relevant and be of admission to a particular profession, there can be a tension between the interests of society and the profession's interests.

– Basic education in nursing and medicine are of great social importance, since it has much of the basis for quality in health services added. How the content of the courses are determined and shaped, is therefore an important question, says NIFU researcher Joakim Caspersen.

In a new NIFU report commissioned by the employers’ association range, illuminated forces that are helping to shape the basic education in nursing and medicine. The study is intended as a knowledge base to better understand the changes and processes in health and social work education today.

In this report, particular emphasis is placed on the influence of professional associations, Norwegian Nurses’ Association and the Norwegian Medical Association, has been in education.

History repeats itself
Caspersen think history tends to repeat itself, and that some reorganization proposals in the health and social education triggers reactions from professional organizations that are quite as expected, given the professional organizations’ role and mission.

Among other things, the report discusses various white papers and work with them, report to Parliament 13 (2011-2012) (“Education for welfare – Interaction in practice”) and White Paper 13 (1976-1977) (“If the organization of the future education of social and health “). Both messages, with almost 40 years apart, discusses the organization of health and social sciences, and thus attempts to address key challenges in the education of health professions.

It is discussed to what extent one can draw parallels between the proposals of 1976 and the proposals in 2012, and the reactions from the time can give an indication of how the newest message is received.

– Some similarities are discussed, although the reason for the changes and proposals that time was of course another, the first reactions to the new message suggests that professional organizations’ reactions sometimes follow the same pattern as before. For example, there is great resistance to change that opens up studies of larger groups, or that can be said to make it easier to get into the studies, says Caspersen.

Preparing agenda?
Professional organizations have been key in shaping and influencing education from the beginning, but as the education sector has expanded and gone through ever larger changes, more and more actors and processes also gained influence due to training.

– It may be questioned whether the professions at all is unitary operators with a clear agenda, as presented in some theoretical approaches to the professions. Key research contributions have pointed out that the professions are characterized by internal struggle over the direction and development, says Caspersen.

The direct control of the content of professional education takes place primarily in four ways: direct regulation of education through laws, regulations, curricula, evaluation, audit and accreditation of education programs; regulation of professions and professional recognition and direct regulation by international guidelines.

NIFU-rapport 33/2012

For further information, please contact
Joakim Caspersen, Researcher, Studies in Higher Education
tlf. 22 59 51 39