What to expect on your placement
Practice placements are an essential part of nurse training and will equip you with the skills needed for a successful nursing career.
Practice placements are an essential part of nursing programme and will equip you with the skills needed for a successful nursing career. In line with standard 2 of the RCN Nursing Workforce Standards, all nursing students must be supernumerary when on placement.
Placements are arranged by your university. When allocating placements they will take into account your circumstances such as where you live, whether you have dependants, and whether you have access to a car. Your university will have placement information online or in your student handbook. In it, you’ll find information about claiming expenses, supervision and assessment arrangements, and what to do if you cannot attend your placement.
You may have the opportunity to go on an elective placement overseas - this will give you invaluable experience.
Raising concerns about placements
A lot of your time as a student will be spent on placement and seeing the theory being put into practice can raise many questions.
In addition, organisations must have effective procedures in place to allow nursing staff - including students - and their representatives to raise any concerns in relation to equipment, policies and processes for managing COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity. This could include concerns relating to in relation to unsustainable pressures in the workplace as well as equipment, policies and processes for managing COVID-19.
Students should feel able to raise concerns without detriment and should receive timely feedback on their concerns. If your concerns remain unresolved, refer to:
- our raising concerns guidance
- PPE - are you safe?
- our refusal to treat (lack of PPE) guide, and speak to your supervisor/tutor as soon as possible.
If you have concerns while undertaking your placement, firstly speak with your practice supervisor/assessor or your academic assessor . This can include any difficulties you may experience due to unsustainable pressures impacting on your placement. Also, read your placement or student handbook to find out how to deal with these difficulties.
You can also see our Raising Concerns guidance for members.
Contact us if you have followed your university's guidance and the problem still exists.
Failures, resits and appeals
If you fail your practice assessment, you should have been made aware of your development needs earlier in the placement.
You are entitled to additional time to address your learning and practice needs if you did not receive a mid-point interview or feedback about your need to develop.
If you fail an assignment, placement or examination, you would usually be offered an opportunity to re-sit.
If you still fail to meet the required standard following the attempts allowed under the course regulations, you can consider an academic appeal.
You can't appeal against academic judgement, but you could appeal if you believe that the judgement was not made fairly or in line with university process. You would need to follow your university’s academic appeal regulations.
Familiarise yourself with the various standards published on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) website which outline what is expected of you (and your programme provider) during the course of your studies and beyond. In particular:
- The Code
- Health and character as a student
- Standards of proficiency for registered nurses
- Standards framework for nursing and midwifery education
- Standards for student supervision and assessment
As a student you should not participate in any procedure that you are not fully prepared for, or which is not adequately supervised. If you find yourself in this situation, discuss the matter as quickly as possible with your mentor or personal tutor.
There may be times when you are not be directly accompanied by your supervisor or another registered colleague. This may happen in emergency situations. As your skills, experience and confidence develop you will become increasingly able to deal with these situations but in the early stages of your education, you must not not undertake any role for which you do not feel confident and competent without direct supervision.
Guidance for registered nurses seeking to delegate tasks to nursing students is available from the NMC. In particular, registered nurses should review the NMC’s Standards for Education and Training.
For information on student electives please see our guide on student electives overseas.
The RCN indemnity scheme will cover student members wishing to undertake elective placements abroad, subject to the conditions and exclusions explained in the indemnity document, and provided you are undertaking a health and social care activity acceptable to the RCN scheme.
As a nursing student, you should not be rostered to work on the ward or within the sphere of nursing as a nurse.
Students are placed on the ward or within a sphere of nursing to undertake a clinical placement and meet certain learning needs. You should not be placed in a situation where adequate levels of support cannot be guaranteed. You are not placed 'to make up the numbers'.
If you are concerned that you are being required to carry out nursing duties, please contact us.
You may undertake a health care support role but you should not undertake any role which is beyond your competence/skill base. Please see our information for healthcare assistants (HCAs) and assistant practitioners (APs).
Before agreeing to work as a health care assistant you should:
- discuss any arrangements with your clinical supervisor
- be paid a rate for the job
- ensure that any nursing bank or agency specifies the basis of your attendance
- have access to all locally agreed provisions / terms and conditions of service as other employees.
It should be clearly understood by all staff that you are working as a health care assistant and not in a nursing student capacity.
Even though you will not be working by virtue of your status as a student nurse, you should still follow the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) guidance for student nurses available from the NMC website.
Nursing Essentials Crib Cards
Don't forget your nursing reference cards; they will provide you with guidance and support with the delivery of care to your patientsTake me there
Placements during Covid-19
The NMC has published emergency education standards that apply on clinical placements. Find out what they mean for you, below.