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Leadership placement update in our region

24 March 2023

Leadership placements within Health Education England (HEE) provide students with opportunities to learn leadership skills, develop soft skills and understand the NHS outside of clinical practice. 

The south west’s latest placement students, Ellie Pollard and Kylie Baker, both Adult Nursing Students in their third year at Bournemouth University, Yeovil Campus, proved leadership, co-production and project experience to promote student identity with the #MoreThanTheStudent campaign.

We took some time to speak to Ellie and Kylie to learn about the campaign and their recent presentation to key-placement providers in the south west.

Collage with a picture of Ellie and KylieWhat attracted you to apply for the Leadership Placement?

Ellie: To explore an alternative placement within a new area. I studied for a healthcare degree prior to adult nursing and explored a variety of clinical settings, whereas leadership was an area I knew needed developing. This placement allowed me to develop my leadership skills and values and explore those of experienced leaders within HEE with the support and guidance of the team. 

Why is promoting student identity important to you?

Kylie: In any area, it is important that people are known as individuals for who they are. As a student, I have felt valued when I have been called by my name and considered part of the team. This has helped my confidence and in turn, my ability moving forward. The opportunity to promote student identity as part of the HEE placement was one I was keen to take as it is important to so many students.

What did you enjoy the most about the placement?

Ellie: Although Kylie and I are from the same cohort, we never worked together previously. We found out early on that we have the opposite Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) profiles, which made for a fantastic foundation for team working! Kylie was able to provide a logical approach to this project whereas I took a more creative approach. We checked in regularly with each other regarding the project but also enjoyed being allowed to apply personal take. Support from supervisors and RePAIR fellows ensured we could receive constructive feedback, allowing us to feel confident about our project and what we had achieved.

Are there any moments or individuals you have worked with that stand out to you?

Kylie: When considering the placement is really difficult to pick an individual as I was lucky to be part of lots of insightful discussions and be part of several interesting meetings. I think what stood out for me was how generous people were with their time and how valued we were made to feel. When we attended meetings we were always encouraged to contribute and be part of the discussion. My assessor Lucy Duncombe was really helpful in giving me guidance for the future.

What limitations did you come across during the process of the project?

Time! The survey was running for 9 days as we wanted to collate results in time for the presentation. The survey we created was an initial scoping search to which we did not expect a huge response. A more in-depth survey would be valuable to further delve into the professions and learn from who those who are making students feel valued. Another limitation was posting this on a personal Twitter account. This was fortunately successful and shared far and wide within 24hrs of being active, however, this may have been better received from a respected organisation. We would have liked to develop the project further with deeper research and greater extension to establish more about respective healthcare professions. 

What benefits will this implementation bring to placement providers?

  • Awareness that students feel a loss of identity as an unprotected title.
  • A chance for supervisors, assessors or mentors to understand their students and their personal needs, values and passions.
  • A way for students to introduce themselves with no pressure.
  • Conversation starters.
  • The ability to be and feel like “more than just the student!”
  • A personal and personable approach to integrating the student into the team.
  • Aids students in taking personal responsibility as an individual.

How do you think this initiative can improve patient care?

If the student feels valued, they’re likely to feel confident and supported in their learning having a positive impact on patient care. With retention as a wider issue, being a student can be challenging and something as little as being referred to as “the student” as appose by name can be the difference in a student continuing the course or leaving due to feeling undervalued. Where students have a positive placement they often feel more positive towards that area of nursing and are more likely to want to return.

How can placement providers get involved?

The picture postcard can be part of the welcome pack before starting placement. The education centres can have a copy of each student’s picture postcard with permission and send these to placement providers before start dates. Alternatively, students can take responsibility for this themselves. These can additionally be found in Collaborative Learning in Practice bays, Education Centres and recruitment banners for Higher Education Institutions. The picture postcard could be used for new starters too. Download the picture postcard here.

What would your advice be to anyone thinking of taking on this leadership placement?

Ellie: Great experience, an opportunity to explore topics that are current and inclusive. Also, an opportunity to develop self-confidence. A lot of experiences on the HEE placement were new for me, such as working from home, meeting people in leadership roles and leading leadership conversations. HEE supported any technical issues and accommodated any areas that seemed personally challenging. Kylie and I have gained a friendship that will last many years and we will continue to support each other throughout our nursing journey. 

Kylie: For anyone interested in learning more about leadership and developing leadership skills this is a great experience. It is a unique placement and gives opportunities that help in developing critical thinking and understanding of different areas. The team at HEE are very supportive and includes you as part of the team from the outset. It helped develop my confidence and analytical skills. In undertaking this placement with Ellie, I gained a friend whom I could work very cohesively with and was able to share the ups and any concerns. We will continue to support each other as we take steps on our nursing journey.

Student leadership placements are supported with leadership training and the skills to facilitate small time-based projects with real outcomes. Staff time is required for student supervision and ensuring that the students understand the task and project goals. For further information on how to establish leadership placements contact Jane Bunce at placements.sw@hee.nhs.uk.