The agency that oversees NHS education and training is considering a radical shake-up of the placement and mentoring systems for nursing students.
Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, nursing director Health Education England, said she was looking into whether student nurses should be assigned to just one placement provider a year, as opposed to switching between up to 10 over the course of their degree programme.
“We need to personalise the placements for student so they get really understand and get embedded in the world of health and care,” she said in an interview with Nursing Times.
This approach would still allow student nurses to be exposed to a range of settings, she added, because they would be expected to follow the “patient pathway” as people within their caseload access different types of care.
“If you’re with a community team then you would look after a caseload, assigned under the supervision of the community nurse,” she said.
“But among those patients, some would die so you’d follow that pathway, some would go into hospital because they’ve had a fall so you’d follow that pathway, some would go into outpatients for long term conditions ,” she added.
“We need to personalise the placements for student so they get really understand and get embedded in the world of health and care”
However, she acknowledged the approach would take “a lot of commitment” from universities, placement teams and students.
Other plans being looked at include reducing the number of mentors and increasing the size of student groups they are responsible for – potentially up to 12 – while making use of nurse coaches to support learning.
Recent increases in health visitor numbers following a government pledge had seen a similar strategy used for their training, noted Ms Bayliss-Pratt.
“We seem to need to work a lot harder at getting quality educators in practice,” she said. “That probably means less of them, as opposed to this assumption that every nurse can be a good educator and good at assessing people.”