Trends in training: So now you know how it feels...

Nurse trainees are taught what it's like to be on the receiving end of treatment, says Rosie Walker

Inserting naso-gastric tubes into your fellow students may not be the first thing you want to do when you get to college, but for those studying nursing at Brighton University, it is an essential part of the course. These tubes go up the nose, down the throat and into the stomach, to feed a patient, and although there is no risk of harm from the procedure, it can be uncomfortable.

Tutors at Brighton think it is an important part of a nurse's training to be on the receiving end of the care they will be giving, so in the tubes go. "We call it experiential learning," says Shirley Bach, head of the university's Institute for Nursing and Midwifery. "This way, they get a better idea of how it feels."

The curriculum and standards for the two nursing qualifications, the degree and the diploma, are set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). But universities can, to a point, choose their own ways to meet the NMC's requirements. At Brighton, people who have been patients come in to teach nursing students about their own experiences, and one module is taught entirely by an ex-patient.

"The module is called 'Better than the Book'," explains Bach. "It deals with mental health nursing – often nurses have to assess a person's mental state quite quickly, and this can create difficult feelings for the patient." The department started using this approach in mental health training, but now use it in all areas of the course as well as on their Masters degree programme.

At the University of Wolverhampton, there is a scheme for nursing students to learn Punjabi to help them communicate with hospital patients in the local area. There is a high proportion of Punjabi-speaking patients in Black Country hospitals, and not all speak English. Students are taught elements of the language specific to nursing – for example, asking about dietary requirements and comfort levels – to help their work placements run more smoothly.

Wolverhampton has also introduced life-size dummies that simulate breathing and have pulses, allowing students to gain hands-on experience of treating patients. "They present student nurses with realistic scenarios, to test their critical thinking and their clinical decision-making skills," explains lecturer Marina Kendrick.

For many, one reason to train as a nurse is the chance to work abroad and to provide a vital service in parts of the world where healthcare systems are less well resourced than in Britain. As a result, some universities now offer work placements much further afield than the local hospital. Claire Denison, studying for her nursing diploma at Staffordshire University, spent five weeks working at a village hospital in Karnataka, southern India.

While there, she worked on a labour ward and helped to deliver twins, watched operations, worked in casualty and helped in the special care baby unit. She also visited specialist wards for burns victims and people with leprosy in Bangalore. As the village hospital in which she was based is very remote, she also saw a high number of snakebite victims.

"People may expect hospitals and healthcare to be basic in India," says Denison, "but the places I visited were really well run."

With work placements currently making up about half the time spent on nursing courses, students gain experience in many different nursing environments. Victor Banda spent one placement in the healthcare centre of a prison. His tasks included monitoring the blood sugar levels of those who are diabetic, giving out medication and dealing with injuries inflicted either by other inmates or by the patient themselves.

"If the prisoner is being moved from one cell to another, a nurse has to go and see how that inmate is being handled, to check that he is not being manhandled. Or, if he already has injuries, to check that he is not harmed," says Banda. "You also have to assess whether a person's condition means he needs to go out to the hospital or stay in the prison health centre."

Nursing became a graduate profession in the 1990s, when universities already offering the nursing diploma began to run degree courses alongside the diploma. But the public funding for aspiring nurses (tuition fees are paid, and there is a £6,000 a year grant towards living costs) has so far in England only applied to diploma courses, as the diploma is the minimum requirement for registration as a qualified nurse. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, however, the full degree is funded.

This, of course, affects the options of prospective students, but some universities do not let the need for funding deter able candidates from getting a degree. At Staffordshire, for example, students who are doing particularly well in the final year of their diploma can switch to the degree course.

However, options like this could soon be a thing of the past. Nursing education is undergoing a significant review by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), and top of the agenda is whether the full degree should be made the minimum qualification for a nurse. This would bring the UK into line with other developed countries such as New Zealand, Canada and the Republic of Ireland.

Other decisions to be made include the ratio of work-based learning to theoretical learning, and whether more time should be given to specialist branches of nursing.

"All bets are off," says Padraig O'Luanaigh, faculty director for nursing recruitment at Staffordshire University. "But we're watching the NMC very closely for the results of the consultation early in the new year. It takes three years to prepare a nurse, though, so any changes will be gradual."

For some student nurses who have found their vocation, though, which path they take may not matter. As Victor Banda says, "It's not just a job you do to pay the mortgage; it's something that is a part of you. Nursing can be a frustrating job sometimes, but if you know why you're there in the first place, then that will be your pillar."

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness