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Do more to promote community nursing career for students, say QNI

Research by the Queen’s Nursing Institute finds high level of interest in this career option, but a lack of awareness of varied opportunities on offer

Research by the Queen’s Nursing Institute finds high level of interest in this career option, but a lack of awareness of varied opportunities on offer

Nursing students are interested in embarking on careers in community nursing, but more work is needed to promote the varied opportunities on offer, suggests new research.

A report by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) – based on a survey and discussion with student nurses in England – found a high level of interest in community nursing.

It also found many students were getting the chance to do clinical placements in community services that

Research by the Queen’s Nursing Institute finds high level of interest in this career option, but a lack of awareness of varied opportunities on offer

Research by the Queen’s Nursing Institute finds high level of interest in community nursing, but a lack of awareness of varied opportunities on offer
Picture: John Houlihan

Nursing students are interested in embarking on careers in community nursing, but more work is needed to promote the varied opportunities on offer, suggests new research.

A report by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) – based on a survey and discussion with student nurses in England – found a high level of interest in community nursing.

It also found many students were getting the chance to do clinical placements in community services that may inspire them to go into community nursing when they qualify.

Only 31% of survey respondents said their knowledge of community nursing careers was good

However, it suggests there is still a lack of awareness and understanding of community nursing careers, despite moves to deliver more care close to patients’ homes and the creation of new roles.

The report featured a snapshot survey, which was carried out last year and completed by 1,056 student nurses.

While 81% had experienced at least one community placement, only 31% said their knowledge of community nursing careers was good, or very good.

At the other end of the scale, 21% felt they had poor or very poor knowledge of careers available to them in the community while 48% said their knowledge was average.

Widespread shortages of community nurses

‘Student nurses need to be fully informed about the vast array of career options available in the community when making their choices and these figures demonstrate there is much work still to be done to support learning about careers in the community,’ said the report.

It comes amid widespread shortages of community nurses and fears increased pressure and mounting caseloads will push others out of the sector.

Encouragingly, 46% of those who completed the survey said they would consider a career in the community.

Students said they were attracted by the opportunity to support people and families in the community and provide continuity of care.

‘Community nursing is diverse, it is growing, and it is moving rapidly as new models of care emerge in integrated provider organisations’

Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute

They also said flexible working patterns, the opportunity to specialise in a chosen field or disease and work autonomously were appealing.

Crucial to address misconceptions about roles and career pathways

Report author and Queen’s Nurse Agnes Fanning said it was important to address ongoing misconceptions about roles and career pathways.

‘There are enduring myths that newly-qualified nurses must work in a hospital before they consider working in the community,’ she said.

‘This is not the case, and we know of many nurses who, after experiencing an inspiring placement as a student, go on to work in a community setting as a first destination.’

QNI chief executive Crystal Oldman said: ‘Community nursing is diverse, it is growing, and it is moving rapidly as new models of care emerge in integrated provider organisations.

‘Community placements have the potential to open up the possibilities to the next generation of nursing graduates.’

Types of placement nursing students experienced

  • 36% had experienced a placement with a district nursing team
  • 19% were placed with a community mental health team
  • 6.5% did a community learning disabilities placement
  • 4% were on placement with a community children’s nursing team
  • Other placements included health visiting, general practice nursing, care home nursing and school nursing

Source: QNI (2021) Pre-Registration Community Nursing Placements Survey Report



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