A study of nursing systems in transition in developed countries

M. Kojima, S. Horiuchi, K. Ota, I. Oikawa, C. Kaharu, M. Nomura, K. Toyomasu, Y. Hatono, K. Kanda, Y. Tanaka

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The present study was designed to investigate nursing systems in other countries in comparison with the current system in Japan, and thereby assess how nursing personnel should be in order to improve the quality of nursing. The study focused on the actual situation of the nursing system and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or second-level nurses similar to LPNs in other countries. The survey was conducted in regard to six countries considered to be advanced in the development of nursing activities and likely to provide useful suggestions for the future direction of nursing in Japan: Australia, Canada, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Questionnaires were sent to the heads or staff of a total of 29 organizations, including WHO Collaborating Centers and professional organizations for nursing, in these countries. Nineteen organizations responded (response rate: 65.5%), and an effective response with completed questionnaire forms was obtained from 15 organizations. In addition, an interview survey was conducted on three nursing administration and education experts in the United States in order to acquire clear understanding of the actual state of nursing in health care practice. The results were as follows: 1. Six countries (Japan included) excluding France had LPNs. Educational preparation for LPNs has been discontinued in the United Kingdom. 2. The number of nurses per 1,000 population was lowest in Japan: the total number of registered nurses (RNs) and LPNs in Japan was less than the number of RNs in the United Kingdom. Only in Japan the proportions of LPNs and RNs were similar, while in other countries of number of LPNs was one-third to one-fourth of the number of RNs. 3. In the five other countries having LPNs, the nurse's competency or scope of practice was clearly defined for both LPNs and RNs. In contrast, no clear line was drawn between the two in Japan. 4. The length of education required for LPNs ranged from 11 to 14 years (including the period of compulsory education) and was shortest in Japan (11 years). The educational requirement for admission to LPN school in Japan was 9 years of compulsory education (graduation from junior high school), whereas in other countries it was at the level of senior high school graduation. 5. Four countries had conversion programs for LPNs to become RNs, and the conversion courses were positioned within the framework of higher education comparable to the university level. 6. In the United Kingdom, where the educational preparation for LPNs has been discontinued, nurses are included in a single higher level profession. At the same time there was found to be a need to train and educate auxiliary personnel in order to maintain multi-level care services. Because of the increasing tendency toward advanced medical technology and highly specialized medical care associated with the rapidly increasing care needs in the community, the current educational preparation for LPNs in Japan in unsatisfactory as a training and educational system for nursing manpower to cope with the current situation. The above findings suggest that the education system for LPNs be reviewed with a view to discontinuing it and consolidating nursing education in Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-68
Number of pages20
JournalSei Roka Kango Daigaku kiyō
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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