A SLiCE of life : student learning in the community

Clark, Zoe, Cox, Cameron, Brady, Mary and Price, Jayne (2020) A SLiCE of life : student learning in the community. Community Practitioner, Dec-Jn, pp. 45-47.


At Kingston University, the focus of this paper, community practice leaders place nursing students in teams for school nursing, health visiting and children’s community nursing. Within these placements, students have the opportunity to undertake outreach in other areas of the community and enhance their learning and practice experience. Learning the skills and expertise of school nurses and health visitors and acquiring knowledge of public health practice can be of great benefit to nursing students (ShawFlach and Hoy, 2016). In contrast to acute settings, registered nurses working in the community often work autonomously, managing their time, making decisions without consulting other team members and being more accountable for their own practice (Wright, 2005). Students may not have encountered this style and pace of working before (Carr et al, 2016). The observational nature of these placements, together with the need to acquire practical skills to consolidate their learning (Dickson et al, 2015) in unfamiliar environments such as clinics, schools and the person’s own home can be daunting and result in anxiety (Carr et al, 2016). Current and previous groups of third year children’s nursing students within the university, through placement evaluation and verbal feedback, have suggested that community placements caused anxiety as students struggled to identify learning opportunities. They felt they were missing opportunities to gain essential skills as outlined within the practice assessment document, and also found it difficult to understand the structure of community placements. Responding to this feedback, we developed a community placement workbook to guide students’ learning in community settings. This workbook was difficult to navigate in Microsoft Word document format; furthermore, students did not want to carry it around with them in practice. Therefore, a website was developed. The website followed the same format for the three main community placement areas: health visiting, school nursing and children’s community nursing. Key information included the history of the three areas of practice, roles and services, useful literature and online information, points for reflection and discussion, and tips for getting the most out of your placement.

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