Please visit nmc.org.uk/COVID19 for information about our recent announcements including temporary registration and changes to how we’re operating during this time.

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We understand that students, approved education institutions and their practice partners are experiencing unprecedented challenges.

Student nurses, midwives and nursing associates provide a significant contribution to nursing and midwifery teams and the delivery of safe, effective and person-centred care whilst on placement.

We’re absolutely committed to supporting the safe placement of students in practice so that they can contribute to the care of people.

Changes we’re making

We’ve introduced a set of emergency standards to:

  • enable student nurses and midwives in the final six months of their programme to complete their training in appropriate placement settings
  • give educations institutions and their practice learning partners more flexibility to ensure students get appropriate support and supervision
  • enable students to use their knowledge and skills appropriately during this time of crisis to support the care of people

Read the emergency standards for nursing and midwifery education.

We will continue to work with education institutions as they work to implement these with their students where appropriate.

We’re also exploring a Covid-19 temporary register for nursing students who are in the last six months of their programme in the event an emergency is declared.

What this means for students

Our emergency standards will enable more flexibility to ensure students get appropriate support and supervision.

Approved education institutions (AEIs) and their practice partners will be regularly reviewing risks and communicating any impact this might have on their students to us.

Students in the final six months of their undergraduate programme

We understand that students in their final year will have developed key skills that will be very valuable.

Our emergency standards will enable students in the final six months of their nursing or midwifery programme to complete the rest of their training in clinical practice.

This means that you could finish your training on placement, whilst ensuring that all your learning outcomes are met.

We appreciate that during this emergency period the pressures on the health and care workforce mean that supernumerary status of students may not always be possible, so we’re removing this requirement during this emergency period.

However, to ensure students still get the support and supervision they need to learn, protected learning time must be provided.

Further information will be available from the Departments of Health (and Social Care) in the respective countries in relation to remuneration of students during this period.

First year undergraduate students

We recognise that, during this emergency period, pressures on the health and care workforce mean that appropriate levels of supervision and support for safe and effective clinical placements for first year students may not be possible.

Our emergency standards will enable first year undergraduate students to spend up to 100% of their programme in theory or academic learning.

This means your clinical placements may be paused, so for the duration of the emergency you will continue your academic work.

You may volunteer or undertake paid work in a clinical setting in your spare time while you maintain your academic study, but this will not be counted towards the practice hours and experience required to complete your pre-registration course.

Our emergency standards will allow the overall 50-50 split of theoretical and clinical hours to be made up over the remainder of your programme.

All other students on approved nursing and midwifery programmes

Our emergency standards will enable all other undergraduate students (including those in their second/penultimate year(s) and in the first six months of their third or final year) and first year postgraduate students to spend up to 80% of their hours in clinical placements.

During this emergency period, you will be invited to opt-in to an arrangement where you may spend 80 percent of time in clinical practice, which would be remunerated (and will count towards practice hours as it will be part of your programme), and 20 percent in academic study.

Your education institution will maintain academic and pastoral support throughout your programme, wherever you’re situated, during the emergency situation.

Potential emergency registration for nursing students

We’re currently working to invite those who have lapsed from the NMC register in the last three years to join a Covid-19 temporary register in the event an emergency is declared.

The next stage of the Covid-19 temporary register would be to establish a specific temporary register for nursing students in the final six months of their programme, which would have specific conditions on practice to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place.

We will only consider asking student nurses whether they would like to join this emergency register if we believe that this is necessary to further benefit our health services and the people who use them.

Following discussions with senior midwives, there will not be a similar arrangement for midwifery students.

Answering your questions

What will happen if I don’t want to take part in a clinical placement?

If you don't want to take part in a clinical placement you don't have to. Your education institution will consider your personal circumstances to find a solution for you. You also have the option of deferring your placement during this time. You will need to discuss this with your education institution.

What should I expect from my university?

Your university should be working with you during this time to ensure you are appropriately supported, in line with our standards. This might include lectures being held online and changes to assessment. For those students in placement, your lecturers may also have to change the way they support you, such as having video or telephone calls with you to continue their support.

What if I do something wrong or make a mistake whilst on placement?

This will be addressed by your supervisor in practice as part of your learning process and/or as part of your normal university processes, depending on the severity of the mistake.

If I take up an extended clinical placement, will I get a mentor?

All students will receive support, supervision and assessment in line with the standards for student supervision and assessment (2018) and the level of supervision will depend on your ability and competency.

I can’t complete my placement because it’s closed or I’m unwell. How does this affect my degree?

Your education institution will have processes to support you during any period of sickness or if your institution closes. Depending on the circumstances, your placement may be deferred for a period of time by your education provider. This may extend the time it takes for you to complete your programme once you return.

How many students will be placed in extended clinical placements?

It is not mandatory for students to take up extended clinical placements at this time. It will be up to the student and the education institution to decide whether they would like to offer their services.

If I take up an extended clinical placement, will I be paid?

We understand that some recompense will be made for those who take up extended clinical placements. Further guidance will be provided by the Department of Health of your respective country

Does time spent on an extended clinical placement count towards my practice hours?

Yes. If you are on placement your education institution will make sure that you have met your learning outcome requirements.

Does supernumerary status for students on extended clinical placement still stand?

Supernumerary status will not apply to those in the final six months of the final year of their programme as they will be working as part of a team that is under the supervision of a health and care professional.

We are amending our standards to include emergency measures to clarify this for education institutions and students, to be in place throughout and in the event of an emergency period.

Why isn't the NMC waiving the minimum clinical hours requirements for nursing and midwifery students during this emergency?

The minimum clinical hours required for nursing and midwifery education programmes are laid down in by a European legislation. As the professional regulator, we have no power to waive these requirements. Any changes to these requirements would be a matter for the European Commission.

What if I decide to go on an extended clinical placement but I have less than six months left on my programme?

You can still finish your programme in clinical practice. Once you’ve successfully completed your training you will be able to apply to register with us in the normal way.

Should I still go on placement?

You should follow the guidance from your education institution about whether placements are going ahead. If they are not going ahead then your university should advise you on what this means for you, and what this means for the rest of your programme with them.

What if my placement is cancelled?

Your university should advise you on what this means for you, and what this means for the rest of your programme with them.

If I am about to qualify and join the register, can I still expect to have a preceptorship year as normal?

Preceptorship is employer led and they will be able to advise you about this when you start working.

Can I step off the programme?

Yes, you will need to discuss this with your education institution and follow their normal processes.

If my academic hours have been reduced during this year, will I be required to make up the lost theory hours? 

We would still require all of the learning outcomes to be met and hours to be adjusted following the end of the of the emergency period in line with our standards.

If I do not complete my practice placements in the first year, will I still need to meet the required 2,300 hours in clinical practice? 

Yes. We would still require all of the learning outcomes to be met by the end of your programme and practice and theory hours will need to be adjusted following the end of the state of emergency in line with our standards.

If as a first year student I want to go into practice placement, can I do so? 

We acknowledge that during the state of emergency and the pressures on the health and care workforce that supervision and support for year one students may not be possible. Your education institution will discuss with you whether there are any suitable placements for you to undertake during this period.

What is happening with a potential student register?

We’re currently preparing to invite those previous registrants who have lapsed from the NMC register in the last three years to join a Covid-19 temporary register in the event an emergency is declared. We will also have the powers to establish a specific nursing student part to the Covid-19 temporary register for nursing students in the final six months of their programme, should this be necessary. This will not apply to student midwives.

If this step is taken, student nurses opting to join this register would be subject to specific conditions of practice, to ensure that they and the public are appropriately protected. These include appropriate supervision, and working within the boundaries of their competence.

We will consider asking student nurses whether they would like to join this Covid-19 temporary register if we believe that this is necessary to further benefit our health and care services and the people who use them. If that decision is taken we will provide more information.

If final year students choose to take up an extended placement, do they still need to have their learning outcomes signed off?

Yes, you will still need to demonstrate competence and have your learning outcomes signed off. If you have any concerns speak to your education institution.

I am no longer able to go on placement because I am in a high risk group. How am I going to get my required clinical placement hours?

As you are still required to meet you clinical placement hours you should speak to your education institution about what alternative solutions to clinical placements they have in place.