Student Welcome & Advice

Welcome to the Clinical Placements and Placement Information Page.  Please read all the documentation carefully, if you need any advice speak to a member of academic staff / Link Lecturer or Mentor/Supervisor in clinical practice. Do not suffer in silence. Keep all documents you have been given and keep them safely. Make copies of everything before you submit.

Present yourself in a professional manner at all times and have a positive attitude to learning in School and in clinical practice. Make a good impression whilst on the programme and the practitioners you work with as a student. Some of those practitioners may end up being your future work colleagues. Previous students always comment on how quickly time goes during the three years. Most importantly work hard and enjoy the programme.

Support In Clinical Placement

Clinical staff will provide mentorship, supervise your experience and assess your practice according to the requirements of your course. Health professionals, other than nurses and midwives, and other members of staff all contribute to your learning experiences so make sure you engage with the multidisciplinary team.

You will be allocated a named mentor on reporting to the ward/clinical area. Many placements will also allocate you one or more supervisors but you should note that any Registered Nurse / Midwife who is responsible for a particular shift is also recognised as your supervisor. Each clinical placement has an identified Link Lecturer who will endeavour to visit the clinical area during your placement. However, you can contact your Link Lecturer at any time if you require support in practice.

In addition to the support provided from within the School, there are Clinical Placement Facilitators (CPFs) who are employed by the local Trusts to engage with clinical practice and act as a liaison between Trusts, this School and the NHS Workforce Deanery who commission your training.
Five CPFs are employed within the local NHS Trusts who will be introduced to you during your programme.

Reporting Sickness & Absence

All attendance must be recorded accurately to fulfil the requirements of NMC Registration at the end of your course. If you are unable to attend a clinical placement as scheduled you must inform the clinical staff prior to the start of your duty shift. In addition, you must report via the Sickness and Absence reporting Hotline - 01782 679677 - following the instructions on your laminated card.

Placement Location & Type Of Clinical Speciality

Information about clinical areas (and, in some instances, travel arrangements) can be found on the (Link currently unavailable) University Hospital of University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust download, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust placement pages and from Link Lecturers (academic staff from the School of Nursing & Midwifery).

Guidelines For Mentors & Students

The following guidelines are intended to clarify the position on students’ supernumerary status during clinical placements. The Link Lecturer or your Personal Tutor will be able to answer any questions you may have on supernumerary status.

All students undertaking pre-registration nursing and midwifery programmes have supernumerary status while on practice placements. That means that they are additional to the workforce requirement and staffing figures” (RCN 2007)
“Supernumerary status means that the student shall not, as part of their programme of preparation, be employed by any person or body under a contract to provide nursing/midwifery care.” NMC (2004a)

“The student is present in the placement setting as a learner and not as a member of staff. However, they must make an active contribution to the work of the practice area to enable them to learn how to care for patients” (RCN 2007)

The NMC’s Code of Professional Conduct (NMC 2004b) states that nurses and midwives on the NMC professional register: “…have a duty to facilitate students of nursing and midwifery and others to develop their competence.”  Student’s practice experience is widely acknowledged as being one of the most important parts of the educational preparation to become health care professionals. In its report Making a Difference the Department of Health (1999) emphasizes that provision of practice placements is a vital part of the education process. Every practitioner shares responsibility to support and teach the next generation of nurses and midwives.

Students are supernumerary throughout their course. This means that the experience they gain during practice placements should be determined by their educational needs. This does not mean that students are purely observers. To develop the required skills and achieve the identified learning outcomes, students must participate in clinical activities under direct or indirect supervision of a Mentor or supervisor. Students should discuss the best ways of achieving their learning outcomes, and ensure that their practice assessment, student passport and skills documentation are available for reference.

The type of nursing activities that students participate in will vary from placement to placement. Students should be given the opportunity to participate in as many activities as possible. This may mean that they follow patients when they attend investigations, surgery or have consultations with other health care professionals. It may also mean that students are given opportunities to participate in a variety of situations that are appropriate to meet their learning needs (for example: participating during a cardiac arrest, assisting colleagues when performing clinical procedures). It would never be acceptable for a student to put a patient’s safety or well-being at risk by refusing to provide immediate care that was within their capabilities.

Students are expected to experience a variety of shift patterns including weekends and nights. The organisation of shift patterns is at the discretion of the placement manager and should ensure adequate opportunities for learning and effective supervision and ideally to work as many shifts as possible with their named Mentor. Supernumerary status does not imply the right for students to change allocated duty at will, or always to have off-duty requests honoured. Supernumerary status does include the student’s right to experience effective learning opportunities in placement and to have the status as students respected. This includes not using students to “fill gaps” in the placement’s establishment of staff.

The NMC Code (April 2008)

Delegate effectively

• You must establish that anyone you delegate to is able to carry out your instructions

• You must confirm that the outcome of any delegated task meets required standards

• You must make sure that everyone you are responsible for is supervised and supported

• You must facilitate students and others to develop their competence


Essential Guidance

Some points to consider: 
Try to plan for each student as soon as the placement area receives their student allocation. Identify the named mentors and supervisors. Ensure that students are oriented to the clinical area and other staff on their first shift. If you are unable to do this yourself, you should arrange for a colleague to take charge for you. At the first meeting, it is good practice to review the student’s documentation, ensuring that you know the stage of training and previous clinical experience of the individual student so that you can discuss with them their learning needs. The initial meeting should be recorded in the practice assessment documentation and a date scheduled for the mid-point review. Informal feedback and guidance should be given regularly.

You should be familiar with the student’s course documentation which you are required to complete and have a good understanding of the performance criteria to meet the required standard.

The student has a responsibility to consider each learning outcome and provide evidence of achievement. Your help and guidance “to get them started” is much appreciated by students. Students should also “self-assess” prior to discussion with their mentor as this helps to develop their self-reflection. The final score or pass/fail awarded by the mentor should reflect the student’s ability to meet the learning outcomes for that specific module. Each module is scored or pass/fail independently. The final comments made in the students report should support the scores or pass/fail awarded. A common error is scoring the student low because he/she is at an early stage of the course and is deemed to junior to gain a higher score. Conversely, if you score to high the student may not take seriously advice about improving practical skills. Also remember that the final report and scores awarded should reflect the views of other members of staff (including the multi-professional team) who have worked with the student during the placement period.

Where there is any concern about a specific student's progress, do not hesitate to contact your Link Lecturer to discuss the situation. If the Link Lecturer is unavailable for any reason, contact the student's personal tutor or any other member of the School's staff who will put you in touch with an appropriate member of staff. Early discussion with a student about areas of concern regarding progress in clinical practice can prevent problems at a later stage of the course. A few students reach their final module and are found to be unsatisfactory in practice having achieved a pass mark in previous modules. This is very disturbing for both student and puts a lot of pressure on individual mentors and should be avoided if at all possible. 

NB: If concerns about a student's progress in clinical practice are not brought to their attention, they will be unable do anything to improve the situation. Clearly, this would be an unfair situation. The importance of regular discussions between student, mentor and Link Lecturer cannot be over-emphasised in relation to concerns about students' progress. Occasionally, a specific action plan may be created at the mid-point review to direct the student for the remainder of their clinical placement 

During the final stages of the placement, an appointment should be arranged with the student to discuss achievement of learning outcomes and to complete the final report and record in the Clinical Skills Schedule. Students are required to hand in all documentation signed by their mentor during the final week of the module when they are interviewed by their personal tutor. Failure to hand in completed documentation without prior notification to their tutor will result in the recording of a 'fail' grade being awarded. Your co-operation in completing all documentation by the last day of the placement is, therefore, very important to the student. The submission date for the Practice Assessment Document may need to be completed earlier than the student’s final week on clinical placement. Please check dates with student.

If a student does not achieve a pass score or pass grade, they will be required to complete an additional period of practice (usually in a different clinical placement) to achieve specific learning outcomes. The student's Personal Tutor will arrange this and the Link Lecturer will be able to keep you informed on progress.

Remember, your role as a mentor of clinical practice, and your contribution towards the professional development of nursing and midwifery students generally, is very important to the development of the future nursing and midwifery workforce. Some students may return to your ward once they have qualified.