Practice learning experiences are a key component of healthcare education programmes for nurses, midwives and allied health professions, in some cases, making up 50% of student’s overall curriculum. Collaborative working between universities, further education colleges and practice placement providers across health and care settings is required, as is, careful management to enable students from a range of NMAHP programmes to gain appropriate practice learning experiences. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 saw a disruption to NMAHP students’ practice learning across Scotland.
Following the publication of The Scottish Government NES commissioned ‘Provision of NMAHP Placements in the 2020-21 Academic Session’, a national strategic group (RAPOG) was established in line with one of the recommendations of the report which was to “Set up a small rapid action group chaired by Scottish Government and NHS Education for Scotland with Council of Deans for Health Scotland to co-develop mitigating actions for placement capacity management and to advise Scottish Government in the event of a potential second wave of COVID-19.”
To co-ordinate, be a conduit for representatives to bring information, share good practice and avoid duplication with a view to establishing a shared understanding of what is happening, any issues arising and to take any national action that is required in relation to maintaining NMAHP practice learning experiences for all NMAHP students during the COVID-19 period.
The group first met on the 15th September 2020 and will meet monthly to have national oversight of NMAHP practice learning experiences across Scotland and consider the potential risk of NMAHP students not being able to complete their programmes on time due to COVID-19.
Since recommencement of practice learning experiences in September 2020, several questions have arisen from practitioners supporting NMAHP students on practice learning experiences. This set of frequently asked questions and answers is designed to address some of the common enquiries. While the FAQs are addressing issues raised by those in the role of practice supervisor, practice assessor or practice educator students, managers and others may find them a useful reference. Please revisit this site regularly as the FAQs will be updated regularly to reflect contemporary issues.
This version of the FAQs was updated on 9th September 2021.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): asymptomatic staff testing in NHS Scotland
Scottish Government are rolling out asymptomatic testing in NHS Scotland for staff and students. FAQs can be accessed on Scottish Government website.
Letter from CNO in response to NMC emergency and recovery programme standards
Following announcement regarding introduction of NMC emergency and recovery programme standards, Chief Nursing Officer has published a response. Position in Scotland is currently no intention to disrupt healthcare student programmes and learning and students will retain supernumerary status and position within clinical area as learners. The document is listed below.
NMC Update – February 2021
On the 18th February the NMC updated the ‘Current Emergency and Recovery Programme Standards’. Two additional recovery standards which enables up to 300 hours of direct contact practice hours to be replaced using alternative methods (for example, peer learning, actors; high and low fidelity including manikins; and virtual and online practice learning training programmes involving authentic case studies, reflection and interaction with people) have been added. Please see the announcement and latest version of the emergency and recovery programme standards at https://www.nmc.org.uk/news/news-and-updates/recovery-standard/. The letter issued to universities on the 18th February is available below.
While students will retain supernumerary status and their position within clinical area as learners, they are being offered the opportunity of joining their local NHS Bank and working hours out with their programmed hours of study and placement. Details are contained in this letter from the Deputy Director of Health Workforce Directorate in Scotland
Scottish Government have produced guidance which outlines students’ access to vaccination while on placement and the national protocol to be followed by those delivering and participating in vaccination programmes.
An action from the RAPOG meeting of the 7th December 2020 was to arrange a round table discussion with a focus on digital aspects of practice learning experiences. An IT roundtable meeting took place on 8th January 2021 and since then Nursing, Midwifery and AHP Education Leads within NES have been working with the Scottish Government’s NMAHP Clinical Leads for Digital Health & Care. A survey was developed and circulated in early February 2021 to gauge practitioners use, and confidence of engaging with digital solutions to support services and also student placements. With over 780 returns from nursing and midwifery practice supervisors, practice assessors and AHP practice educators the survey report can be found below, along with a document highlighting the guidance and resources available to support digital solutions to enable student placements.
Universities and their partner practice placement providers are working jointly to ensure timely communication and support for students during this period of COVID-19. The document below provides some examples of strategies currently being used with nursing and midwifery students to keep them informed and to support their wellbeing. Please revisit this document periodically as it will be updated as further examples of good practice are shared by universities, colleges and practice placement providers over the coming weeks.
Good practice examples - Enhancing communication and support with nursing and midwifery students [PDF]
A virtual/digitally enhanced placement is one in which the student is able to use digital platforms (e.g. Near Me) to engage with patients, practitioners, or their named practice supervisor, practice assessor or practice educator. A Short Life Working Group, with representation from education, practice placement providers and NHS Education for Scotland (NES) on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery National Strategic Group for Practice Learning and Allied Health Professions Practice-Based Learning Stakeholder Group have produced the following guidelines:
The guidance document below was developed by a Short Life Working Group, with representation from education, practice placement providers and NHS Education for Scotland (NES) on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery National Strategic Group for Practice Learning and AHP practice-based Learning Stakeholder group in response to recommendation (i) of the Scottish Government Commissioned NES Report ‘Provision of NMAHP placements in the 2020-21 Academic Session’. Recommendation (i) states ‘work with universities and boards to develop a national approach to risk assessment processes and occupational health review processes for students.’
While very effort is made to keep this guidance document current students, university and practice provider colleagues should revisit the Scottish Government webpage at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-individual-risk-assessment-for-the-workplace/ regularly as the guidance and associated COVID-age calculator may be revised if new research is reported that materially changes the balance of available evidence, as it will be kept automatically updated, without notifications of changes.
In March 2020, student nurses and midwives (excluding year 1) were given the opportunity to ‘opt in’ to a revised programme structure of extended paid placements to support the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who chose to ‘opt in’ registered with the NES COVID-19 Accelerated Recruitment Portal (CARP) but allocations of placements remained the responsibility of universities in line with NMC emergency standards to ensure they achieved programme outcomes. This was a complex process and required close collaboration between NES, Scottish Government, universities and placement providers. This paper provides an overview of the lessons learned from NES facilitated debrief sessions.
Last updated: 19/10/2020