Background Student nurse placements are essential to developing a variety of skills across different specialties (Royal College of Nursing. Student nurses. [Internet] 2023). Hospices can provide a unique placement experience for students (Jeffers. J Hosp Palliat Nurs. 2018; 20(3): 266–271), however, some evidence suggests that student nurses are not prepared to deal with death and dying whilst on placement (Parry. Int J Palliat Nurs. 2011; 17(9):448–453).
Aims Our aim was to improve the student nurse placement experience by: (i) Better preparing students for their hospice placement (ii) developing a multidisciplinary approach to create a complete hospice experience for student nurses.
Methods In June 2021 we re-designed the student nurse welcome pack which provided essential information about the hospice. We ensured that we used terminology such as ‘life-limiting illness’, ‘death’ and ‘dying’ to prepare students for some of the experiences a hospice will likely provide. We emailed student nurses one week in advance of their placement, providing them with the welcome pack, mentor details and rotas for the placement. Rotas included a comprehensive timetable of sessions with all members of the multidisciplinary team including day services, complementary therapy and fundraising. At initial interviews mentors were asked to discuss any experiences, fears or anxieties the student nurse might have in relation to death and dying.
Result Feedback from student nurses has been positive. Many students have enjoyed experiencing all aspects of the hospice, and they felt that the advance planning and preparation meant that their supernumerary time was protected. Students reported feeling well prepared for the placement, and that anxieties were addressed in good time. A number of students have expressed an interest in hospice and palliative care in their future career.
Conclusions Our work has demonstrated that by offering information in advance of placements, providing support on induction to the hospice setting and creating a timetable of multidisciplinary activity, we can offer a positive and supportive environment for student nurses at all stages of their training.
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