We know that mentors find the assessment of healthcare students difficult. With limited time to perform the role and balancing this against the ever-increasing demands and workload, it can feel like one responsibility too many for busy nurses.
Research and my experience as a lecturer in mentorship show that one frustrating element is the assessment documentation. This is more complex when workplaces accept students from different universities so mentors have to learn to navigate the differences.
I am involved in a collaboration of 30 universities in the Midlands, Yorkshire and East of England Practice Learning Group (MYE PLG) to implement a practice assessment document (PAD) aimed at improving the quality of the assessment experience for students, supervisors and assessors.
Previously, there were different processes in place for each university; mentors found the myriad of documents confusing when students at each stage of the programmes may have had slightly different requirements. The MYE PLG have collaborated with the PAN London Practice Learning Group using an adapted version of their successful PAN London PAD. The regional MYE PAD has Nursing and Midwifery Council approval and will be used from September 2019 with the Future Nurse curriculum.
The MYE PLG works with over 100 NHS trusts and a larger number of private, voluntary and independent placement partners. The future impact on hundreds of students, supervisors and assessors will be significant with the introduction of the MYE PAD. Regional groups in the South, North and Northwest of England are also collaborating to introduce regional assessment documents.
As we approach implementation, stakeholder events with practice partners ensure that they are abreast of developments and can in turn assure their staffs of the plans.
Alongside this, a regional approach to the transition has been developed. This will ensure current mentors are prepared for the new roles as practice supervisors and assessors.
It’s the first time I have known such wide collaboration at a time of curriculum development across education and practice partners. I hope this work reduces assessment anxieties and improves processes for all involved.
Ultimately, getting the assessment right is pivotal to patient safety, so developing shared practice should ease the burden of assessment on students, supervisors and assessors.
The aim for all this work is that introduction of the Future Nurse curriculum will be collaborative in a way I have not experienced before.
Even though each university retains their own programme with different elements, dependent on regional and organisational strengths, assessment in practice should be consistent.
This enables supervisors and assessors to feel confident as they support students from different universities by using the same document and assessment method, which is vital.
We also need to remember the student perspective in this innovation. As fee payers, students may have increased expectations from their programme of study. We need to ensure that support for the students, supervisors and assessors is available from the university.
“It is key that we introduce the change well and support those involved as the transition takes place”
The development of web-based resources that are accessible on demand when required will allow this. Equal preparation for students and placement staff is required to ensure a smooth transition and integration to benefit all key partners.
Core work is ongoing to deliver a variety of materials for transition and other regional groups are doing this too. MYE PLG has a website and is developing more resources all the time to aid the introduction of the MYE PAD.
It is a time of change again in nurse education. There are many facets to this, but from my perspective, collaboration on assessment documents, preparation for the new roles and tools should make the assessment process smoother.
It is key that we introduce the change well and support those involved as the transition takes place to achieve the aim of consistency and ease of assessment processes with the new assessment document and roles.
Jan Royal-Fearn is lecturer in mentorship, University of Derby