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Student nurses in Devon pioneer taking over running of ward

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Student nurses successfully took over the running of a ward last month at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, as part of a new model of learning, according to those behind the initiative.

Collaborative Learning in Practice Placements (CLIPP) is a new model of nurse training in practice, whereby teams of students take over the running of one or two bays of a hospital ward.

“I believe this was the first time that a whole ward has been taken over by students in the South West”

Katie Jackson

However, they continue to be overseen during the exercise by dedicated registered nurses and healthcare support workers.

At the end of April this year, a team of University of Plymouth nursing students began to pilot the new initiative at Derriford Hospital.

They initially took over the running of one or two bays on the hospital’s Hartor ward, which cares for older patients.

By the start of July, the trust deemed the move so successful, that for their final week, the student takeover was extended to cover the entire ward.

Katie Jackson, placement development team educator at the trust, said: “Instead of students simply shadowing a registered nurse, as part of the CLIPP model they are encouraged to learn by doing.

“This ultimately enhances the student learning experience, giving them an opportunity to be more hands-on, and therefore increases their confidence, leadership and decision-making skills,” she said.

“The CLIPP model brings together the best of both traditional and modern learning approaches”

Ed Cox

Ms Jackson noted that the students who took part in the trial were allocated by random selection from each of the three year groups. She highlighted that few knew each other at the start of the placement, but that they “quickly developed into a team”.

“The success of the CLIPP pilot is certainly a result of their hard work and team-working skills,” she said, while also praising the “fantastic support” given by the ward and its manager Teresa Beer.

The placement team said it hoped that, by trialling the CLIPP model with further students across different wards, it would become standard practice.

Ms Jackson said: “I believe this was the first time that a whole ward has been taken over by students in the South West, and perhaps even the country.

“We look forward to how it will improve integration between the hospital and university, as well as increasing the number of placement opportunities we can provide,” she added.

Trust deputy chief nurse Beverley Allingham said: “It’s been wonderful to see first, second and third year students working closely together to develop a strong team ethic and a network of peer support.

“Their learning experience is greatly improved with the CLIPP model, as they feel more empowered and so their confidence grows quickly,” she said.

“It’s been wonderful to see first, second and third year students working closely together”

Beverley Allingham

Ed Cox, the trust’s head of nursing, added: “The CLIPP model brings together the best of both traditional and modern learning approaches.

He said: “We’ve received excellent feedback from both the staff and the students, and I hope that we will see it trialled further in other parts of the hospital.”

The initiative has also been a hit with students. Suzy Bayliss, a third year student nurse, described taking part in CLIPP as an “amazing opportunity”.

“I feel very lucky to have been chosen to take part,” she said. “It has enabled my confidence to grow, and I now feel ready to take the next step as a registered nurse.”

Meg Neal, also a third year student nurse, added: “I have loved every minute. The experience has inspired me to go on to mentoring, once I am qualified.”

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • This is good to see. Our uni have currently been doing this for 3 years

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  • This is good to see. Our uni have currently been doing this for 3 years

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  • Any feedback from patients about this?

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  • Do you think this is a new way of working? Think back 25 plus years ago and all nurses were having hands-on experience, managing aspects of patient care in year 1 and 2, by the time they reached the end of year 3 they could run a ward. Their knowledge over the 3 years grew as they worked with other students, support workers, registered nurses and working with other members of the MDT

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  • This was the way I was taught as a student. You got more responsibility in 2nd year including teaching 1st years and running the ward in your 3rd year was counted as part of your work placed assessment and must be passed before taking your finals. Nothing much new as far as I can see but please correct me if I am wrong it will be my age to blame.

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  • Nothing new here. Exactly the way I was taught, 25+ years ago. All training was on the wards, students were part off the work force and included in ward numbers. By the end of three years you were confident and ready to be a staff nurse and couldn't wait to ditch the old J-Cloth and put on your staff nurses uniform.

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  • Why is everything claimed as new or innovative. 3rd year students ran wards on nights..... back in the days of the SRN. One night sister and a few staff nurses floating around for several wards.

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  • Nothing new here. We did this throughout our training and qualified ready to take on the role of registered nurse.
    But I'm not complaining, it's high time Benner came back in fashion. (Novice to expert)

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  • This is a great initiative and this experience should be embraced by every university. I also agree with the experienced nurses here, we used to complete our aseptic technique, medication administration, total patient care, and ward management assessments under the very direct supervision of the ward sister - making the transition from student to staff nurse almost seamless.

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