Providing appropriate support for student at all times
Students must be provided with the right support to help them to complete their programme. This includes access to the right people, who must be appropriately prepared to help them meet their learning outcomes.
Who supports students will depend on a number of different factors, including what environment it is, the programme outcomes of individual students, individual student needs, what underpinning knowledge or evidence is required and what proficiencies or skills are being taught.
Supervising students in practice learning
Our standards state that all students must be supervised in practice learning. Ideally students should be supported by practice supervisors in every learning environment or experience. However, some settings might be new and considered non-conventional from a nursing and midwifery perspective so they may not have professionals who can support student learning. These could still be great opportunities for a student to learn in as long as they receive some of kind of support in their practice learning in that setting and are supervised indirectly by practice supervisors ensuring our standards are met.
For instance, students might find it useful to spend some time learning at a local food bank. Food banks provide emergency food as well as compassionate, dignified support to people facing financial hardship. They work in partnership with a wide range of health and social care professionals, for example, doctors, teachers, health visitors and social workers to identify people in crisis and may give them food bank vouchers. They can offer support and advice to help people resolve the crises they are facing and to help reduce the need to use food banks in the future. This might include debt advice, mental health support or guidance around benefits.
Such practice learning experiences can help students to gain insights to a variety of learning opportunities and achieve some proficiencies around social care needs of individuals and how these might influence health, for example. Engaging with the local community in this way can help understand areas for health promotion and develop understanding into factors that may lead to inequalities in health outcomes. In addition to this it may be possible to see how current health and social care polies and legislation influence people’s lives and explore ways in which they can influence policy and change.
Students must have the opportunity to learn from a wide range of people and professionals. This includes all nurses, midwives and nursing associates in a practice environment, regardless of whether they are acting as a practice supervisor. The Code expects all the professionals on our register to act as a role models of professional behaviour for students and newly qualified professionals on our register. Members of the public, service users and patients, other staff, including other employee groups such as occupational therapists, pharmacists, phlebotomists and healthcare support staff can all support student learning, whilst any registered health or social care professional can be a practice supervisor.
Peer to peer learning is also a form of learning that can be used. Consideration should be given to who is best placed to help support the learning of specific skills and proficiencies in that learning environment. The student should feel empowered to seek out learning opportunities and involve as many people as they need in order to learn from the experience. More information can be found on this in the section on learning environments and experiences.
We require that all students have access to a nominated person while in practice, who must be available to support students and advise them regarding their concerns.
The nominated person does not necessarily need to be based within the learning environment, and in many cases it may be inappropriate for them to be so, for example, if there is only one other professional within an environment and they are acting as a practice supervisor. For instance, a student of pre-registration learning disabilities nursing may be on a practice placement in a special needs school where there is only one school nurse to supervise the student; in this case the ‘nominated person’ may be someone based outside of the school but who can liaise with the school should there be any concerns regarding the student’s learning experience.
We do not state who the nominated person must be, only that they must be available to students. They should be familiar with our guidance on raising concerns and the requirements of the professional duty of candour. It will be up to the AEI, with their practice learning partners, to decide who can fulfil this role, provided our standards are met and public protection is upheld.
The role that different people have in student learning, will be dependent on a number of different factors. The learning environment, and the roles that people play within that are for the AEI, with its practice learning partners to determine. The student should be provided with the appropriate information, support and opportunities to make the most of all learning experiences.
Relevant NMC standards to this section
20.8 act as a role model of professional behaviour for students and newly qualified nurses, midwives and nursing associates to aspire to
25.2 support any staff you may be responsible for to follow the Code at all times. They must have the knowledge, skills and competence for safe practice; and understand how to raise any concerns linked to any circumstances where the Code has, or could be, broken
1.5 there is a nominated person for each practice setting to actively support students and address student concerns