Family Nurse Partnership

Celebrating the First Family Nurse Partnership Professional Diploma Graduations

June 18, 2024 by No Comments | Category Family Nurse Partnership

Guest Blog: Marion McPhillips, Principal Educator, NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

We asked Marion McPhillips, Principal Educator, to reflect on the Professional Diploma in Family Nursing. This is the first academic award in the world for family nurse education.

The first group of family nurses from Scotland and Northern Ireland have graduated with the diploma in June 2024. We are very proud of the NES Education team for making this happen.

Family nurses are experienced, qualified nurses and midwives, who undergo extensive additional training at masters level. This enables family nurses to support young first time mothers to build the confidence and skills they need to provide the right support for their baby and give them the best start in life.

You can learn more about the Family Nurse Partnership by watching this video: Family Nurse Partnership: 10 year analysis (

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I have always lived and worked in the Glasgow/Lanarkshire area and started general nursing 43 years ago this year. How scary is that!

I live with my son and his labradoodle Buzz! Close by are my daughter, her husband and my baby grandson Zac, who has brought a whole new level of joy to my life.

I enjoy walking with friends a couple of times a week, Pilates, sewing, baking and eating the home baking.

What do you enjoy most about being a Principal Educator?

I love being within the education team as it provides me with an opportunity to see the development of individuals as they transition to the family nurse role. I’m not in the classroom as much as I used to be but am working in the background to ensure the standard of education is high and the family nurses are able to offer the FNP programme, faithfully to the recognised model.

What is the Professional Diploma in Family Nursing?

When I was interviewed for my current post eight years ago I was asked what my vision was for my first year in post. I naively said to develop an academic award for family nurses! Well I have been on a bit of a learning journey and the education team have worked diligently to get to where we are today with the first group of family nurses graduating with a Diploma in Family Nursing. The FNP education programme is mandatory for all new family nurses and since September 2022, new nurses have a choice to study for this academic award. Diploma candidates undertake about 4-6 hours of additional personal study each week and complete five assessments over the 18-month programme. They capture some of their clinical work alongside their academic assessments in a TURAS portfolio, which is an online learning resource. On successful completion, the candidate is awarded the Professional Diploma in Family Nursing, which carries 60 masters level points.

What are your reflections on the diploma and why is it an important milestone?

This is important because family nurses undertake a significant amount of learning within the core programme and they told us they felt they deserved academic credit for their efforts. Although it has been a long time coming for the family nurses, it demonstrates the tenacity of the education team to listen and respond to the nurses we serve.

The diploma has been a steep learning curve for the education team alongside the candidates. We have received positive feedback from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) during a recent external verification visit. This reassured us about the processes and assessments we have in place. Along with my fellow Principal Educator, Lesley O’Donnell, we have also managed to navigate any bumps in the road.

The most significant milestone to date is the first graduation event in June 2024. Eleven family nurses from across Scotland and Northern Ireland are the first in the world to receive an academic award for family nurse education. I am so proud to be part of the team that made this happen.

Could you share any feedback you have received about the diploma? 

The SQA told us they had high confidence in the standard of education the family nurses received, and we had four examples of good practice acknowledged within their review.

For example the external verifier noted that within the portfolio they could identify where Supervisors give excellent feedback in their observations of Home Visits (what we refer to as Accompanied Home Visits). This feedback from the supervisor is able to identify an area of development for the candidate and clearly describes when an opportunity may have been missed to cover another aspect/ requirement of the award. It was also noted that the processes to assure the competency and capability of the assessors and internal verifiers are robust and well documented.

The family nurses have told us that the assessments we have developed were helpful with their clinical practice. The FNP supervisors also offered reflections on the deep understanding of the underpinning theories of FNP that family nurses undertaking the diploma demonstrate. We trust this will bring benefit to the FNP clients and their babies.

I am delighted to share some feedback from family nurses who attended the first graduation event in June. They are the first in the world to have achieved an academic award for family nurse education:

“So one thing that stands out for me that I’ve implemented into my practice more is looking at the clients data, I always felt extremely busy and never really made that a priority but doing the data learning pack as part of the e-portfolio forced me to look at it and spend quite a bit of time and that’s something I would say I do on a regular basis”

“I’ve noticed with doing the course that it makes more sense of your practice, knowing the theory and looking deeper into why it’s used and how it’s used is making a difference into how I practice because I now understand the rationale for everything I am doing”

“I think that it has influenced my practice positively and I understand the theory of FNP better and because I understand the theory I can relay that to clients a lot easier and I think it just links everything you are doing in practice together and you understand the reasons why”

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