Student nurses are being encouraged to adopt a project led by a group of trainees in Manchester that aims to improve support during placements, following its success across the city.
Trainee nurses at the University of Manchester launched the scheme - which sees undergraduates given a “placement survival pack” booklet with tips and information, and access to an online blog where students share their experiences – in June 2015.
“The blog…is there to calm people down and offer some brotherly or sisterly advice from peer to peer”
The booklet includes practical information including on bus routes, different NHS trusts and employers and mentor responsibilities and a copy is given to all first-year trainees, while the online blog features posts by students on placements across different fields of nursing.
It was set up because the group realised students often had questions and anxieties ahead of going on placements or during them, which could be answered or resolved by fellow course mates.
The scheme has now been expanded to include student midwives and since 2015 the website has been visited by thousands of people.
Natasha Wragg, a third year adult nurse who is leading the project alongside 12 others, said when she joined her degree programme she was able to get advice from a friend who had previously studied on the course, but knew others may not have had that opportunity.
“It calmed me down so much – knowing things like what shoes I should wear, if I would be able to put my lunch in a fridge and so on. These are the things that could keep you up at night as an anxious first-year student and I could get an answer to them straight away,” she said.
“We produced this blog, which is there all the time, and you can easily access it and search for what you’re looking for. It’s there to calm people down and offer some brotherly or sisterly advice from peer to peer,” she said.
“Whenever I speak about the project, so many other students come up to me and say ‘Can we use you model, can we start something similar?’”
She noted that a survey of student nurses before the project launched revealed around three quarters were unsure how to make the most of their placements.
The project also aims to help students improve their clinical confidence, by providing them with a way to connect to others who have already completed placements in particular settings or are going through it at the same time, she said.
“At our university, at the end of the first year you have a six-week full time block placement and we have found the website is being accessed a lot during this period when people are in practice full-time and don’t have seminars and lectures when they could have spoken with other students,” said Ms Wragg.
She noted that the project had gained interest from students outside of Manchester and that she and the group urged others to take on the scheme or make similar changes to improve placements for others.
“Whenever I speak about the project, so many other students come up to me and say ‘Can we use you model, can we start something similar?’ It’s great to know it is having an impact outside of our community,” she said.