This week’s blog is written by Amy Hunter (@aeh_health) who currently leads the HEE Clinical Placement Expansion Project in Leeds (@CPEPLeeds), bringing together local practice partners for innovative ‘Future Placements’. Amy is also Chair of the One Workforce Leeds project’s Technology and Innovation Subcommittee, which considers the placement experiences of all learners in Health and Social Care.
One of the positives we have seen from the last couple of years is the amount of creativity demonstrated by nurses to keep our learners in practice. Nursing is changing, and therefore so must practice placements. Whilst the emphasis is on quality learning opportunities for learners, perhaps now is also the time to consider quality supervision and assessment experiences for those facilitating practice placements. The NMC consultation on modernising standards on placement settings is anticipated to take place during 2022 (NMC, 2021a). This is an opportunity for all those involved in facilitating learning in practice to voice their opinions on the future of placement education.
What’s happening now?
Nursing programmes are currently able to incorporate up to 600 hours of digital, virtual and simulated practice within the 2300 hours of clinical practice required for NMC registration (NMC, 2021b). This provides opportunity for developing novel practice placements. There are many excellent examples of how placement providers and Approved Education Institutions developed innovative placements during COVID-19. Yet, there is so much potential still untapped. To address this, there needs to be a culture of sharing ideas and good practice so all learners have the chance to benefit. Culture change takes time. Whilst developments in the placement circuit may have been reactive recently, there is opportunity to build on these substantial developments to ensure sustainability of placement models which enhance learning and equally importantly, high quality facilitation of practice learning.
Considering the needs of the current workforce
It is the current workforce who facilitate learning and many registered professionals take immense pride in supporting learners in practice. This in itself is great, but in the context of a severely depleted workforce, within systems that are under significant clinical pressure, staff should be adequately resourced to undertake practice supervision or assessment roles.
In the last five years or so, learner expectations have changed. Generation Z have different preferred learning styles to Millennials, and there are differences in their attitudes to Higher Education more generally. Do placement experiences take this into account? Are organisations upskilling their Practice Supervisors and Practice Assessors to manage the expectations and learning styles of Generation Z? As a generation, these learners are often creative, and want to have security in their chosen profession (Hampton and Keys, 2016). This is wonderful news for the future of nursing, but these attributes should be supported in practice now. Therefore, the needs of the current workforce to facilitate learners in practice have to be considered when developing innovative placements.
We need a sustainable placement model that ensures future nurses meet their outcomes, but not at the detriment of the current workforce. Facilitating learners is a privilege afforded to all nurses through the Code (NMC, 2018). We must innovate for the benefit of the future workforce, but we must innovate for the benefit of the current workforce too.
Call to Action
So what do we need to do now?
- Develop sustainable practice learning experiences which will benefit learners and staff – consider both from the initial planning.
- Share your placement innovations: consider how you get the message to others e.g. HEE Learning Hub, journal articles, conferences, professional networks.
- Inform the future of placements by taking part in the NMC consultation when opened – the outcome could affect you, so have your say.
Hampton, D.C and Keys, Y (2016) Generation Z Students: Will they change our nursing classrooms? Journal of Nursing Education and Practice 7 (4) 111-115.
NMC (2018) The Code. Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses, midwives and nursing associates [online] Accessed 08.12.21 at www.nmc.org.uk
NMC (2021a) Research into pre-registration programme requirements [online] Accessed 08.12.21 at www.nmc.org.uk
NMC (2021b) Council approves continued use of recovery standards to increase flexible use of simulation [online] Accessed 13.12.21 at www.nmc.org.uk