This is the second of two papers that examine district nursing within a changing health policy and service environment. The first paper explored the current UK policy context and the way in which district nursing and community nursing services within each country are changing to meet the challenges posed. This article considers the current district nurse (DN) role, which has constantly evolved over the past 150 years, and considers the educational framework that underpins the preparation of these specialist community practitioners in relation to community colleagues such as specialist community public health nurses (SCPHNs). In the context of the current economic climate, there is concern that the apprenticeship model of staff development is replacing specialist practitioner education for DNs, solely on the basis of resource. This article explores the current challenges for DN education within the UK. The underpinning educational preparation of DN programmes is examined and key issues such as safeguarding the public are discussed. The need to develop a cohesive approach to education for post-qualification nurses in the community is advocated. These are important considerations for the future of a discipline which currently feels under threat
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