Clinical placement could be majorly improved if feedback from nursing students was captured better. Who else is better positioned to identify gaps, provide solutions and praise what works well than those with fresh eyes, big ideas and willingness to go that extra mile to fix something? Performance, regardless of context, can only be boosted when areas of improvement and similarly, areas of strength are identified and appropriate actions are taken.
Nursing students hold a powerful voice in this, which often remains unheard. Picture a medical ward where standard procedures have been put in place many years ago and since then, like clockwork, anyone who came in just followed them, without questioning or searching to revamp them. We are witnessing unprecedented advancements in ways of doing things, it is hard to believe many educational environments do not facilitate the provision of feedback from students.
Induction, morale, resources and mentor assignment, are all aspects that nursing students and only them experience first-hand. Considering clinical placements are responsible for as much as 50% of their entire education before going into practice, their perceptions and experiences are highly valuable in ensuring the future of medical establishments and provision of care can grow and stay on top of developments and changes. It’s also how hospitals and clinics attract and retain top talent. Generations who are now entering the workforce have different ways of working, higher expectations from the workplace culture and a mindset shaped to find errors and, hopefully in many cases, come up with solutions to fix them.
While many establishments have provision of feedback on their agenda, few actually take a well thought out approach to enable them to collect and analyze it. Even fewer facilitate the process for students. Feedback generally comes in the form of a thank you letter, gifts, dinners or at the very best, a poorly designed questionnaire where aspects get rated but no chance of explaining is given.
Studies have demonstrated that when students have the opportunity to provide qualitative feedback management and staff can gather valuable insights and actionable advice that can significantly improve performance and boost morale. And the explanation behind this is simple: being fully immersed in an environment, particularly for many years, it’s difficult to stay impartial and objective.
The situation can be looked at through a different set of lens as well. Nursing students have confessed they do not receive regular performance feedback from their mentors and supervisors. Which is yet another untapped opportunity which can lead to better outcomes. Feedback can improve student confidence, motivation and self-esteem and overall clinical performance which are key both short and long term.
To address these issues, it’s important for every ward everywhere to nurture a culture that welcomes feedback and utilizes it to grow individuals, teams and medical care provision. Encouraging everyone to have a voice and making sure that voice matters can truly make a difference.