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Laura talks about providing the best possible experience for student nurses

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in #ProudofDPT, Mental health, Nursing on 21st February, 2020

On Mental Health Nurses Day Laura Fuller talks about her role as Practice Education Manager and the work she does with student nurses on their placements at Langdon Hospital.

Laura joined Devon Partnership NHS Trust in 2009 as a Senior Staff nurse but it was her own poor experiences as a student on placement that led her to her current role as our Practice Education Manager in Secure Services at Langdon Hospital in Dawlish.

We have a growing and enthusiastic student practice which aims to change the student mantra of “I’m just a student”, to “I’m a Nurse”.  

Laura is passionate about ensuring that every student coming through our doors has an excellent experience and learns to have confidence in their abilities as a nurse, so that they leave their placement not “just a student”.

Laura comments: “I know what an anxious time this can be for our students and I want to make sure they get the best experience possible from their placement with us.”

As soon as a student is allocated to the service Laura contacts them by phone and email to gain an understanding of their experiences on placement(s) so far.  Laura can then assess what their needs are and, importantly, find out what they are hoping to achieve from their placement. The pre-placement buddying that Laura has introduced also includes assistance with finding accommodation and being on-hand to answer the numerous questions an anxious student may have.

“It’s really important to build rapport and earn the trust of our students, so they can build their confidence as they work towards achieving their placement goals.” adds Laura. “I will greet each new student on their first day, collecting them from the train station, if needed, and introduce them to their ward-based mentor."

Laura trains all the ward mentors and takes care matching each student to an appropriate nurse, taking into account interests and experience to date and a student’s individual learning style. 

During their placements Laura works alongside students on their shift, training and checking all activities.  She allows students to talk openly about anxieties and encourages them to recognise and correct mistakes, so they can constantly improve and identify and recognise best practice.

Laura concludes; “It’s vitally important that we train nurses to have a voice, to be able to challenge possible poor practice and engage in debate about best patient care.  Our success as a service can be measured by our student nurses leaving placement with a completely different outlook about who they are; as confident nurses who have a voice and are able to fully contribute, challenge and feel valued.” 

Laura is now setting up one of our low secure wards as a CLIPP (collaborative learning in placement practice) ward; where we will have six students, with third year students training first year students. This is the first time the CLIPP model has been trialled in a secure mental health care ward. The model originated in Amsterdam and has been adapted in the UK. It is distinct from the traditional mentorship model in both the way practice learning is organised and in the philosophy that underpins how students learn.