Increasing service user influence on the selection of nursing students

Walker, Elaine; Pearson, Beryl and Dobson, Fiona (2013). Increasing service user influence on the selection of nursing students. In: Research and Innovation in the Recruitment and Retention of Pre-registration Nursing and Midwifery Students, 21 Feb 2013, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2010) indicates that it is best practice for service users to be included in the selection process. Scottish Government Health Directorates and NHS Education Scotland (2010) acknowledge that the involvement of service users in the selection of student nurses is variable and as yet seems to be a relatively unexplored aspect of selection, with opportunity for new practices and innovative approaches.

The OU delivers nurse education across the United Kingdom and the States of Jersey and selection of students takes place across multiple sites. Students who study the PRNP with the Open University (OU) are typically health care support workers, approved and supported by their employers. In 2012 an enhanced selection process was developed in partnership with service users that provided a method of their meaningful involvement which at the same time assured fairness in selection.

Applicants were now required to write a short paper on a topic identified by service users. This was reviewed, commented on and graded by service users within each locality. Service users also derived an interview question from each applicant’s paper.

Informal feedback on the process indicates service users valued their increased influence on the selection of students and their participation in the process. Academic colleagues and practice partners regarded this enhancement as highly effective. This feedback mirrors the findings of Rhodes and Nyawata (2011). The identified benefits, limitations and challenges are considered and initial evaluation findings shared.

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