Nursing education – future education and competence requirements

Future education and competence requirements

In April 2014, the member organisations of the Danish Health Confederation agreed to launch a project for the purpose of creating an extended basis for internal as well as external debate on the future education and competence requirements of the occupational groups represented by the Danish Health Confederation.

The aim of this decision and project was thus to secure a basis for debate and new efforts regarding education and competence requirements before 2020/2025.

The main objective of the project has been to secure a solid basis for future discussions of new legislation and programme regulations concerning the healthcare study programmes. The secondary objective has been to establish a basis for systematic continuing and further education that meets the requirements of the Danish health authorities and health professionals.

The healthcare system is changing at a rapid pace these years – in consequence of demands for adjustments following from i.a. demographical changes, shifting disease patterns, new forms of marginalisation and social health inequality, continued great expectations and somewhat reduced resource frames.

Social changes, new forms of management and incentive, new division of labour and cooperation between healthcare operators, implementation of welfare technology solutions etc. will all affect the demands faced by the occupational groups represented by the Danish Health Confederation – and contribute to changing the reality that newly qualified professionals should be able to handle and to which experienced employees should continuously be able to adapt.

At the same time, though, the occupational groups represented by the Danish Health Confederation take part in shaping this new reality through their training and vocation.

The education project of the Danish Health Confederation was conducted in the context of these market trends – running from the beginning of May to the end of October 2014.

The Danish Health Confederation encompasses 11 different member organisations and the professions and basic educations represent a very wide range of knowledge and competences.

The Danish Health Confederation member organizations are:
Danish Nurses’ Organization
Danish Association of Occupational Therapists
Danish Association of Midwives
Danish Association of Dental Hygienists
Danish Association of Pharmaconomists
National Association of Podiatrists in Denmark
Association of Danish Physiotherapists
Danish Council of Radiographers
Danish Association of Biomedical Laboratory Scientists
Danish Association of Psychomotricity
Danish Diet & Nutrition Association

The project has to a great extent focused on the professional bachelor programmes, but has also included programmes under the Danish Health Confederation that do not lead to a bachelor’s degree: pharmaconomists, podiatrists and various programmes within the area of diet and nutrition.

These occupational groups are employed both in the primary and secondary health services sectors and are represented in a number of contexts, including hospitals, municipalities, general practitioners and dentists as well as private practices. Add to this state institutions within education and research in particular, but also the national defence and Danish Prison and Probation Service as well as the Danish Working Environment Authority. Both the public and private healthcare systems are thus represented, and within a number of the groups – e.g. physiotherapists and dental hygienists – the majority are employed in private practices.

At the same time, these occupational groups occupy a wide range of roles which, in addition to everyday services, also include e.g. management and guidance, quality and documentation as well as education, research and development.

The occupational groups of the Danish Health Confederation very much represent the past growth – and expected continued growth – of tasks within the primary sector. E.g. recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of nurses and physiotherapists employed in the primary sector – and this tendency may very well continue.

The Appendices include a detailed directory of the different functions and roles fulfilled by the occupational groups of the Danish Health Confederation – including the breadth of occupations and distribution across sectors.

As a rule, the project process has focused on the generic tendencies and cross-professional challenges and opportunities of these groups with regard to future education and competence requirements.

The themes and problems central to the project process – and the subsequent reporting – may therefore also affect the member organisations and occupational groups differently.

In this context, it is important to remember that the history, development and age of the study programmes differ.

There are examples of ‘young’ study programmes and study programmes that are rich in tradition, just as there are different development trends as regards educational level and length. The study programmes also differ when it comes to their positioning and impact on everyday life within the health sector.

A significant chosen premise of the project is that no effort has been made to establish a precise definition or delimitation of concepts such as ‘knowledge’, ‘competence’, ‘skills’ and ‘insight’. The latter, however, has been applied as a collective term for a less detailed, more general form of learning.

The level of detail of the learning to which the undergraduate programmes as well as continuing and further training should lead may vary. In the context of more extensive development work within the individual study programmes it may be relevant to work with the precise definition of the 4 concepts concerned – and whether there is a need for e.g. ‘knowledge’, ‘competence’, ‘skills’ or ‘insight’ within the given learning areas.


Complex future and reflexive health professionals
On further development and improvement of the healthcare study programmes
Report on the education project of the Danish Health Confederation



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