Newly qualified nurses

Give young people a say in nurse recruitment

Involving children and young people in the recruitment process can bring equal rewards for both patients and staff, says postgraduate children’s nursing student Sarah Ball, who was interviewed by a children’s panel for her first nursing post.

Involving children and young people in the recruitment process can bring equal rewards for both patients and staff, says postgraduate children’s nursing student Sarah Ball, who was interviewed by a children’s panel for her first nursing post 


Letting children and young people make choices about their own care
can help improve the child health system. Picture: iStock

As a newly qualified children’s nurse, my role involves encouraging patients to be actively involved in care to ensure their voices are heard. 

Patient involvement has long been recognised as important to quality care delivery, but staff recruitment is one area where young people may not be routinely involved. 

I was recently interviewed by a children’s panel for my first nursing post. This was a positive experience, and I was impressed by the engagement and commitment of the young people involved. 

The day began with a group exercise, where candidates discussed the chosen topic of mobile phone use. We were then interviewed individually by a panel of three young people aged between ten and 16. 

Confident and professional

The panel decided on the questions and designed their own marking criteria. Questions ranged from serious topics such as ‘If I was in hospital and I wasn’t getting better, what would you say to me?’ to the more light-hearted ‘What is your most embarrassing moment?’ and the inventive ‘You’re Roald Dahl and you’re writing a new book. What would the monster be?’ 

Although I had some initial nerves, it was a real pleasure to see how confident and professional the young people on the panel were, and I really enjoyed myself. 

NHS Employers has produced guidance on how to involve children and young people in recruitment. This provides a model for other organisations to follow, and highlights several case studies showing this is possible and beneficial. 

Wider implementation across the NHS requires drive, vision and leadership. While involving young people in the recruitment process may take some initial planning, there are clear rewards and benefits for all involved. 

Crucial choices

As well as encouraging active participation in healthcare, it offers children the opportunity to gain skills, make choices and develop ownership of services that are there for them. 

Staff can build strong, trusting relationships with young people and gain an insight into what is important to them, and care quality is improved by ensuring that services are appropriate, inclusive and able to meet the needs of this population group. 

recent report by the Nuffield Trust highlighted the need for a child health system that understands the needs of the child and family, involves children and families in the design and improvement of services, and prioritises health literacy. 

Listening to the views of children and young people and letting them make choices about their own care is crucial in achieving these aims.


sarahSarah Ball is a postgraduate children’s nursing student at King’s College London 

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