An online test that could be used to identify nursing course applicants who lack kindness and compassion is being trialled at universities across the UK.
The test presents applicants with a set of scenarios they are likely to face while working as a nurse, and asks them how they would react.
In a pilot scheme at London Southbank University and Great Ormond Street Hospital, the test identified as unsuitable the same 20% of applicants to a children’s nursing course as those rejected by interviewers.
It is now being trialled at a number of other universities including Kings College London, Manchester Metropolitan University, Liverpool John Moores University and Brighton University.
The online test is currently only being used alongside regular recruitment processes and will not determine whether applicants are accepted onto the course.
However, Yvonne Franks, associate director of nursing for NHS London, told Nursing Times the results of the pilot suggested the test could be used in future to identify unsuitable candidates before interview, saving resources.
“So much of what we do is intuitive and subjective,” she said. “There are hundreds of people applying for nursing courses at the moment. If you could concentrate on the more suitable applicants when interviewing, you could potentially get the cream of crop.”
The new NHS education and training body Health Education England has already stressed it wants to see more emphasis placed on values when recruiting staff to work in healthcare.
Ms Franks, who has been leading on the pilot, said interest in recruiting for values had been prompted in part by concerns from directors of nursing in London about the suitability of some nursing graduates. But she stressed it would be “naive” to think kindness and compassion alone would be enough for entry onto modern nursing courses.
Students will be followed through to see if tests can predict who is likely to make good nurses or whether recruits with certain attributes are more likely to drop out further through the course.
Eventually it is hoped the research will allow the development of profiles for people that would make the ideal nurse across different specialities.
Ms Franks said the longer term results of the study would be the “real nirvana” moment.