The UK’s largest NHS trust is to start using psychometric tests on its nursing recruits in a bid to assess their levels of compassion and the values they hold.
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is to become one of the first acute trusts in the country to put its future nurses through a series of personality tests designed to assess their ability to offer compassion and preserve patients’ dignity and respect.
The news comes just weeks after Nursing Times exclusively revealed that a London mental health trust was also currently in the early stages of developing a new assessment process for nursing applicants, which includes looking at how potential recruits interact with each other to help gauge their compassion levels.
Janice Sigsworth, director of nursing at Imperial, told Nursing Times that the acute trust was developing psychometric testing to be launched in the next couple of months.
‘We are also developing a letter which will be sent out to all potential candidates, which will set out the values of the organisation,’ she said. Ms Sigsworth said that although these values were yet to be finalised they were likely to be ‘pride’, ‘respect’, ‘innovation’ and ‘care’.
‘We want to screen and recruit for the right values, and then train for skills,’ she added. The trust is also in the process of developing a hospital handbook to be given to every patient, which will set out what service they can expect from staff.
‘The crux of Lord Darzi’s NHS Next Stage Review was about personalisation. Society has changed and nurses have not necessarily changed to fit that,’ Ms Sigsworth said.
However, Peter Griffiths, director of the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College, London, said he had reservations about psychometric testing.
He was one of the authors of a report – State of the art metrics for nursing: a rapid appraisal (see attached document)– which was published last year and is seen as the first step in trying to quantify and measure the work that nurses do, including the levels of compassion they offer patients.
‘I am a bit prejudiced against psychometric testing,’ he said. ‘Many professions use it to test for the personality traits they are looking for but I’m not sure this kind of testing will achieve what it sets out, as people can get wise to them and they are easy to fake,’ he added.
Instead Professor Griffiths said he thought measuring the experiences of the patient was key to getting an idea of whether nurses were compassionate. ‘We need to remind staff what the whole thing looks and feels like through a patient’s eyes, because it is often very difficult to keep that perspective,’ he added.