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The role of professional regulation on the development of nursing and healthcare practice in Europe (Ref: RDF22/HLS/NMH/UNSWORTH)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Prof John Unsworth  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The WHO have identified the important role which nurses play in securing Universal Health Coverage (UHC2030, 2019) and have set out an ambitious agenda for strengthening the nursing and midwifery contribution to healthcare globally (WHO, 2021). Within the WHO Europe region disparities exist in the preparation and development of the nursing workforce with many countries in Eastern Europe struggling to harmonise standards for initial preparation of nurses and around advanced roles for nurses. One of the reasons often cited for the disparities is the difference in professional regulation between countries. The National Council for State Board of Nursing in the United States undertook a review of the state of professional regulation across the globe in 2020 (NCSBN, 2020) which identified three broad models of regulation independent regulation, cross profession regulation and alternative models. This review failed to adequately identify the value and issues with each broad approach.

In Europe regulation can be broadly divided into Ministry oversight, Regulatory Body oversight or Professional Body regulation. In the different regions of WHO Europe progress with the development of regulation is variable. Many countries seek advice from WHO and others about the appropriate model of regulation but the different European models have not been studied in any great detail to identify the value they bring, how they impact on the professions they regulate and how they might evolve over time. Understanding the importance of regulation will be a key element to implement policies around Universal Health Coverage and dealing with the challenges which demographic change and increasing rates of chronic illness will place on health systems across Europe.

This PhD will specifically study systems of regulation in Europe (the 53 member states of WHO Europe) drawing on case study experiences from Western, Northern and Eastern European Countries. It will identify the value regulation brings to policy implementation, examine approaches to regulation and how these have been / could be enhanced and explore the early development of regulation in Eastern Europe.

It is likely that the PhD study would utilize a mixed methods approach to examine regulation across Europe with key informant interviews and survey methods to collect data from a wide range of European countries. The study represents an ideal opportunity to influence regulation and health policy within Europe and will add significantly to the Departments growing reputation in workforce policy and development.

Given the topic area applications are welcome from individuals with a diverse range of backgrounds from nursing, healthcare, political science, social policy or law.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·      Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

·      Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see 

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Informal enquiries to Prof John Unsworth ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes ( which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


Unsworth, J., Greene, K., Ali, P., Mazalu, C., Lilibro, G. (2021) Advanced Practice Nursing Roles in Europe: progress and lessons learnt. International Nursing Review in press
Unsworth, J. (2021) Untapped Potential: District Nursing Services and the avoidance of unnecessary admission to hospital. QNI International Community Nursing Observatory
Unsworth, J (2013) Accountability and Professional Regulation In Patient Safety for Nurses Learning Matters Series (Melanie Fisher and Margaret Scott Eds.). Sage: London
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