Inspiration: Piloting student nurse placements in general practices

Inspiration: Piloting student nurse placements in general practices

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Organisation: Barnet Community Education Provider Network (CEPN)


This project is piloting student nurse placements in general practice in order to build experienced primary care teams who can provide quality patient care in the future.

The main issues are that newly qualified nurses rarely directly enter general practice as their training does not include general practice placement, and many practice nurses are reaching retirement in the next 5-10 years.

Brief Summary

In 2014 Barnet Community Education Provider Network (CEPN) worked with the Nursing Directorate at the University of Hertfordshire to offer student placements at five Barnet general practices.

Since July 2014, we have had 10 students placed in 5 GP training practices. From May 2015, we have had 3 further practices wishing to take student nurse placements. At the end of 2015, we aim to have supported at least 10 practices to support another 10 student nurse placements.

The student nurses also have the opportunity to attend inter-professional learning alongside medical students, supported by a multi-professional education team.

There have been a number of challenges to overcome:

  • Attracting students to take up placements in general practice
  • Finding general practices that were willing to host the student nurse placements
  • Ensuring that mentors were in place to support the placements
  • Ensuring the placements met the university’s requirements

The keys to overcoming these challenges have been:

  • Building strong relationships with all the stakeholders and having the support of the Clinical Education Provider Network to help with those relationships
  • Offering some financial incentives, as well as allowing the student nurse to see patients, means that practices receive something in return for their investment
  • Working with practices which are already GP training practices. We believed that such practices were an ideal place to pilot as they already had an ethos of learning in place, which included a positive outlook to multi- professional training

We have received feedback from practice staff that having a student nurse has been helpful for the whole general practice team – “a breath of fresh air”.

“This has been a positive experience for both the nursing team and the student. The paperwork has not been onerous (as it sometimes is!) and we have shared a wide range of experiences with our student. She has worked with other team members to gain an all round view of how primary care is delivered.”

“as a student nurse you learn to work independently and this placement has enabled me to develop skills such as decision-making, organisation and management. Practice nursing is a unique and special role!”

“Being able to run my own clinics have given me more confidence and made me realise there are more options than secondary care when I qualify.”

Next steps
One of the practices has successfully employed their final year student nurse as a practice nurse. The student has now developed induction resources for the practice and CEPN to support new nurses in general practice.

Barnet CEPN is currently piloting a multi-professional educational approval tool which will allow practices to be approved as Multi-professional learning organisations for supporting training of GP registrars, nursing students and medical students. This work will be evaluated and published in due course.

Area of work

In relation to the four foundations of our declaration, this project aims to:

  • Happy staff with the right skills

Service user involvement?

The student nurses were supported in practices to undertake consultations, with supervision and then if the mentor felt appropriate, to manage some of their own basic consultations.

Advice for others

  1. Make it as easy as possible:
    • We developed timetables for the students
    • We encouraged the use of the whole community and general practice team – such as, the GP, the diabetes specialist nurse, the district nurse, the health care assistant- sharing the load meant the practice nurse did not need to take the bulk of the teaching/mentoring
    • We asked practices to sign an agreement to host the student nurse which included the mentor, the practice manager and the lead GP
  2. Have a key message of ‘we need practice nurses or we risk a future without an experienced primary care team’
  3. Go to multi-professional meetings, such as GP trainers workshops, make time to meet the practice nurses, the practice managers and the GPs, and keep in touch with them and the students

Links for more information

This work was presented at a conference on Transforming London’s Community and General Practice Nursing:
The video is here
The presentation is here

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