Should clinical placement hours be cut? Nurses views are divided
Nursing students, nurses and educators take to Twitter to share their opinion on proposal to reduce placement time by 500 hours – and views range from supportive to worried
Nurses are spilt on whether cutting the number of clinical placement hours they need to qualify by 500 hours would have a positive impact on people studying for nursing degrees.
Nursing students, registered nurses and educators took to social media to discuss proposals outlined in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan to cut placement hours from 2,300 to 1,800 in a bid to boost nursing numbers.
While some students welcomed the idea, saying it would give them more time to focus on their university assignments, others said they felt ‘nervous’ that it would ‘dilute nursing.’ If approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the move would equate to about 14 weeks of clinical placements lost over the three-year degree.
Call for ‘decent placements with people committed to teaching’
Many responses focused on the need for quality placements rather than quantity of hours, with mental health nursing students in particular saying their proficiencies were not always appropriate for their learning.
One nursing student said: ‘If the placement quality is good then some will manage well on less hours and probably be glad. For two years I couldn’t do any nursing stuff because I was always being used as a HCA. So decent placements with people committed to teaching would be a start.’
‘Motivation to learn can depend on what the placement offers’
Others raised comparisons with Australia where clinical placement hours for trainee nurses total only 840 hours – just over a third of what is required in the UK.
University of Edinburgh professor of student learning Tonks Fawcett told Nursing Standard that unless there is a reason 2,300 hours is a ‘magic number’ to qualify then it is ‘definitely worth considering’ whether placements should be reduced.
‘It does mean that if we're going to give students fewer hours out on placement, then we have a moral and ethical obligation to do a quality assessment of placements,’ she added.
‘The motivation to learn can depend so much on how that placement is seen, not the number of hours you're there, but what it offers while you are there.
‘We don’t know how students will react. Some will think it’s wonderful and others will be fretful that they can’t complete their competencies – it’s very individual. But if it can help resolve a desperate situation then we ought to give it a go.’
The NMC said it is analysing and consulting on the issue and plans to present findings at a future council meeting.
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