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General practice placements a success, say students

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The University of Hertfordshire has piloted a successful project that places undergraduate student nurses in general practice placements.

Some of the students reported at a symposium on September 11 that they would now consider a career in general practice nursing after having had some experience of it.

Students that had undergone the four week elective placements gave presentations discussing the things that they had learnt from their time in general practice. All of the students were pre-registration adult nursing students.

The students' comments echoed the theme of the symposium, reporting that placements in GP practice offered them a valuable and worthwhile learning experience.

One of the students said: 'We found that the patients valued what we thought and they were more likely to ask us for our clinical opinion than they would in hospital'. Another student commented: 'I looked forward to going into placement every morning and found they were really excited to have students as they had never had them, compared to hospitals which are more used to having students.'

A third student was pleased with the variety of clinical skills that were covered during her four weeks in general practice. 'I got to learn how to do baby vaccinations, travel immunisations and even got to work in minor illness clinics. It was a lot more varied than working in a specialist hospital ward.'

An advanced nurse practitioner who worked at one of the practices that hosted the students said it had been just as useful for her as it had been for the students. 'By teaching the students, it gave us the opportunity to refresh our knowledge and reflect on our own practice. Our GP was very supportive of having nursing students and we are keen to have more students in the future.'

Michele Charles, Head of Department of Adult Nursing and Primary Care at the University of Hertfordshire, explained that the pilot was still in its early stages, but that the team hoped to build on its momentum. 'As a result of this work we do now have a number of practices that are ready to take students, particularly some of the larger group practices that employ more practice nurses. One key has been to work with the whole practice team ie the practice nurses, GPs, and practice managers. There is also a daily placement tariff per student nurse which can help the GP practices to develop their educational support for students.'

The practices that the students attended were in the East of England and North Central and East London area. Discussions have started about the future of placing students in local GP practices.

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I have been a mentor in general practice for about 12 years. We have pre-reg students from Hull University. They now have 6 weeks in year 1, 8 weeks in year 2 and 12 weeks in year 3 in a primary care placement. They are allocated a mentor in many primary care locations and have the opportunity, within that placement, to visit others in order to meet their competency criteria e.g. community matron, community nursing team, practice nursing, pulmonary rehab, physio, social services, OT, dietician, midwife, health visitor, hospice, pharmacist etc. we had a student spend a couple of days at the prison. This is monitored and evaluated after each placement by the student and mentor.
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