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How do service users feel about being treated by student nurses?

  • Comments (5)


Barksby J (2014) Service users’ perceptions of student nurses. Nursing Times; 110: 19, 23-25.



A group consisting of a lecturer, staff nurses and mentors to student nurses on placement wanted to explore service users’ perceptions of student nurses.


To explore service users’ perceptions of student nurses and their experience of being nursed by them.


This research involved a qualitative study of service users’ perceptions of student nurses. It involved brief semi-structured interviews where the service users were asked about their experiences. A thematic analysis of their responses was undertaken.


In many cases, perceptions of student nurses was positive and service users had fond recollections but some remembered students in a negative way. Many service users remembered student nurses coming and going but considered this to be neither good nor bad - they expressed indifference as they were accustomed to having health professionals change throughout their care pathway.


This study focused on people with learning disabilities but the findings are likely to apply to all care settings, particularly those that are long stay, where the care environment becomes home. The findings give student nurses and other staff insight into service users’ experiences.


Let’s discuss…

  • In your experience, how do service users feel about being treated by student nurses?
  • How does constant “coming and going” of healthcare professionals affect service users?

  • Comments (5)

Readers' comments (5)

  • Anonymous

    I'm a student nurse, and out on placement I have often noted how lovely service users are to student nurses, and how willing they are to let us treat them. I have only ever been treated kindly and with benevolence by service users as a student nurse, I think many like to help us learn.

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  • Anonymous

    as long as they have adequate supervision.

    I still remember on my first surgical ward within my first months of training as far back as the mid 70's my horror that I and others, fully unqualified, were expected to look after patients. Not from my own point of view but from the fact I could have been in the very same situation being treated by a student! I had always imagined all the nursing care was carried out by qualified and highly experienced nurses! even more horrifying was one of the first patients I encountered was a nurse so all sorts of fears run through my mind but fortunately I only talked to her in the presence of one of her colleagues and all her care was in fact carried out by qualified nurses so I was spared from further fears there. After that initial shock I gradually got caught up with the work and lost my fear as I realised we never carried out any care beyond our experience and any new procedure we were required to learn was well supervised until we were competent to work on our own. However, I am still horrified at some of the nursing care unqualified staff are entrusted with.

    My first experience as a hospital patient was some 30 years later. I was almost paralysed with fear but the nursing and surgical care was second to none although by then it had all become rather protocolised, routinised and regimented with little time for any informal chat with the staff. Something I had never really though about before and which surprised me was the number of nursing staff I saw in any one day so did not have the occasion really to get to know any particular nurse or assistant. I was somewhat worried when a student came to give me an IM injection but she was accompanied by a qualified nurse and they introduced themselves and asked my permission for the student to perform the injection. It was all very carefully explained to me and quite unbelievably she executed it to perfection and I never felt a thing! I just hope that my technique was always that good although patients always used to say they didn't feel my injections. My boss, who I never took took to as we had disagreements over some of her dodgy procedures and she was rough with her patients, once gave me a sc heparin injection which really hurt as she must have caught a vein although I didn't like to say anything but was not impressed by her technique!

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  • What happened to patients ? service users ? it might be descriptive but really does not ring true .
    Thoughts anyone ?

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  • Anonymous

    judy mewburn | 12-May-2014 9:22 am

    perhaps they should just be referred to as consumers, or even punters, or some other descriptive but equally inappropriate term!

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  • The term 'Patients' is not appropriate for all care settings as it implies that the person is unwell. In learning disability services (where the study is focused) and mental health services (where I train) many teams exist to support or enable people who are not unwell. We use the term 'clients' to refer to such individuals. We thus use the term 'service user' to embody all those who use services within the trust, be they patients in acute settings or clients in recovery or enablement settings.

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