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How does a practice education manager support student nurses?

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Having a positive role model can make all the difference to your nurse training. Adult branch editor, Leanne, finds out more about her role model.

How does a practice education manager support student nurses?

We are told at the beginning of nurse training to seek out positive role models, and for me a member of the practice learning team has become just that.

In my welcome blog I said that I wanted to introduce you to some of the people that I feel have made an impact upon my student nurse journey.

So, please meet Sarah Shaw.

Sarah has been a constant figure throughout my course and someone I find inspirational. I hope you do too…


Can you tell us about your career to date?

I qualified in 2002 from University of Central England; I worked as a D grade nurse on an orthopaedic ward for seven months before gaining employment on a gynaecology ward. I progressed onto becoming an E grade staff nurse and shortly after that ward sister.

I have always loved having students and being a mentor. I was the student link on the ward and implemented many resources to enhance the student experience. Then I came across the clinical placement facilitator role, which was my dream job, and was successful at interview.


What is your role and how does it support student nurses?

My job title is practice education manager and I am responsible for placement provision within Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for all pre-registration healthcare students. I am accountable for the management, implementation, sustainability and quality of educational standards across a multi-professional workforce. I support students and mentors directly and indirectly. I ensure mentors meet their NMC mentor standards and that the placement learning environments are of optimal quality therefore; students experience the highest quality placement learning.


How do you decide what areas are suitable to utilise as placement areas?

We look at the service provided to determine the learning opportunities that are available and that they are appropriate. We look at how many trained mentors are in the particular area and if they meet their SLAiP standards. If any do not meet their standards this would not necessarily mean they were unsuitable, and we would implement what we need to to ensure they are able to mentor. We complete and educational audit of the area before a student can be allocated.

How does the process of allocating placements to students work? Is this a time consuming process?

We meet as a practice team twice yearly. During this meeting we consider each individual student’s journey, the NMC requirements of practice, the student’s requests and their suitability for the placement. Once plotted, we give the information to PLU who input the data onto e-vision. Four weeks prior to the commencement of the placement, PLU release the allocations to the students. The meeting itself is half a day but the preparation prior to this meeting takes a couple of days.

On an ongoing basis we have to make changes to placements for many different reasons and each placement change takes approximately half an hour.


When making placement visits, what do you expect to see from both student and mentor?

I would expect to see a therapeutic relationship, which is building on mutual trust and respect. I like to see that mentors are knowledgeable of the assessment that is required and that appropriate learning opportunities have been planned for their student.

I like students to demonstrate commitment, professionalism and taking responsibility for their learning.


Do you feel that student nurses spend enough time in clinical practice?

We have to work within NMC requirements which is currently 2,300 hours but my personal opinion is ‘no’, but then I am a perfectionist.


Thinking back to your student days what was your favourite placement and why?

I have three, but the common denominator in them all that made them favourites was the mentors I had. Good quality mentorship determines every student’s learning experience.


What do miss about being out in clinical practice?

Making a difference.


Any advice or tips for students to get the most from their placements?

Embrace your training and enjoy it.

Take responsibility for your learning.

“Ditch the document” students can become fixated on the Practice Assessment Document and in doing so limit their learning opportunities.


Leanne Siekiera is Student Nursing Times’ adult branch student editor

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