More community placements needed for nursing students

Nursing student placements in the community need support to ensure the career is seen as attractive and workforce issues are addressed, say community nurses.
Community placement

Nursing student placements in the community need support to ensure the career is seen as attractive and workforce issues are addressed, say community nurses.

The QNI healthcare conference highlighted Oxford Brookes University’s research

Several speakers highlighted the importance of placements and mentors at the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) healthcare in the community conference, in London on Tuesday.

Burton-on-Trent practice nurse manager Gill Boast said she was lucky to have the support of her GPs, but recognised her surgery was only one of two in the entire area that took on students.

‘Growing our own’

‘When I set up placements at my current work, I didn't really ask for permission. However, I realise I am very fortunate, our GPs didn't ask any questions,’ Ms Boast said.

‘We are now growing our own and nurses we have taken in are coming back and taking jobs in our locality,’ she added.

Junior practice nurse Louise Goodyear, who was mentored by Ms Boast during a student placement and now works in the same practice, said she hoped other nurses would be inspired to take on students.

NMC guidance to educational providers is that practice learning opportunities should be available in hospital and community settings in each part of the nursing degree programme.

Developing placements

QNI project manager Mary Saunders is leading a piece of work commissioned by Health Education England to look at best practice and environment in developing placements in community settings.

Ms Saunders said community placement opportunities were variable and a lack of experience was likely to have a detrimental impact on nurses wishing to move into primary and community care.

She shared comments from nursing students who had undergone practice nurse placements and some myth busting that Oxford Brookes University had done about community nursing (see picture, above).

‘Learnt more about nursing’

One student said: ‘Looking back on my eight weeks in the surgery, I realise that I have actually learnt more about nursing, and people in general, than in any other placement.

‘The role of a practice nurse goes way above and beyond their role as a nurse: maybe add in marriage counsellor, bereavement counsellor, travel agent and general life coach?’

‘The community nursing workforce has shrunk by almost 50% in the last decade – down to 6,500,’ Ms Saunders said, advising preparation was key to setting up good placements.