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MS Nurse PROfessional – an update

Vicki Matthews, MS specialist nurse and MS Trust nurse advisor, MS Trust, Letchworth, UK.

Way Ahead 2012;16(3):9


Three and half years ago, the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform (EMSP), together with a group of MS specialist nurses, the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN), the MS Trust and Rehabilitation in MS (RIMS), led the first pan-European survey of MS nursing – MS-NEED (Multiple Sclerosis-Nurse Empowering EDucation). The findings confirmed what many already knew that disparities existed in both the role of MS specialist nurses and the support nurses provided to people with MS throughout Europe1. The report highlighted the need to standardise this. Almost a quarter of nurses also felt they have not received adequate training and education to support them in their day-to-day role in treating MS. A significant finding in the UK was the level of autonomy that MS specialist nurses had in their clinical practice yet, with little contribution toward original nursing research.

MS Nurse PROfessional

This early work led to a new syllabus group being set up to work on the concept of a European Consensus Paper and an accredited, online foundation educational programme, MS Nurse PROfessional. The curriculum for this programme intends to underpin and give substance to the consensus statement.

This work is the result of over three years work that included desktop research, scoping exercises, need analysis, telephone interviews and consultation with a wide range of stakeholders across Europe and beyond. It incorporated the views and experiences of a wide range of professionals, service users and patient organisations and considered many different health organisational, geographical, cultural and professional boundaries. The syllabus committee maintain an ongoing process of review and revision that is now reaching its final stages prior to launch toward the end of 2012.

Commitee Affiliation Country
Vicki Matthews (Chair) RIMS UK
Nicki Ward-Abel IOMSN UK
Jaume Sastre-Garriga Neurologist Spain
Kitty Harrison MS nurse The Netherlands
Eija Luoto RIMS Finland
Roberta Motta IMSS & IOMSN Italy
Amy Perrin Ross IOMSN US

The rationale for this work is that it will increase quality of care for people with MS and their families, and will also directly address the European Commission's Green Paper– Modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC). This directive is focused on preparing for mutual recognition of a national degree (such as an MS nurse exam) across all member states.

Here and now

The content of the curriculum has undergone rigorous scrutiny and review that includes feedback from MS specialists and general neurology nurses of many levels of experience, expertise and organisational/geographical settings. The first pilot took place in Malta in May/June2012 and was undertaken in English.

The curriculum will be accredited by the UK Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The RCN will proactively assist with submitting the programme to other European accrediting bodies for recognition and approval in target countries and will facilitate discussions regarding higher level of education qualifications such as diplomas.

The European Association for Neurosciences Nurses (EANN) will officially endorse the activity. Accreditation is also being sought from the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The MS Trust is actively involved as the key broker for MS nursing education in the UK and leads the way for MS nursing in Europe.

The second pilot and 'soft launch' will take place in Spain in the autumn 2012. This will be in Spanish to enable a 'real life' testing of MS Nurse PROfessional in another language. It is planned to make the course available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and possibly Czech or Russian. The formal international launch will take place at the European Committee for Research and Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) in October 2012 and will mark a milestone in the history of MS nursing.

This project reaches out to all those nurses who aspire to provide the very best care they can to those people who are living with the consequences MS. It reaches out to those nurses who want to share experience, expertise, knowledge and skills as part of an European nursing community that spans all corners of the European community and works together to make life the best it can be for those who hear the words: "You have MS".


  1. Hartung HP, Matthews V, Perrin Ross A, et al, on behalf of the MS-NEED study group. Disparities in nursing of multiple sclerosis patients – results of a European nurse survey. Eur Neurol Rev 2011; 6(2):106-9.