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Call RCN Direct on: 0345 772 6100
This guide is for RCN members who are nursing students. It includes information on re-sits, appeals, complaints, placements, raising concerns and accountability.
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Practice placements are an essential part of nurse training and will equip you with the skills needed for a successful nursing career.
Placements are arranged by your University. When allocating placements they will take into account your circumstances such as where you live, whether you have dependants, and whether you have access to a car. Your University will have placement information online or in your student handbook. In it, you’ll find information about claiming expenses, supervision and assessment arrangements, and what to do if you cannot attend your placement.
You may have the opportunity to go on an elective placement overseas - this will give you invaluable experience.
Our publication Helping Students Get the Best from their Practice Placement will help you think about how to get the most from your placement, explore what you can bring to your placement and what to expect in terms of learning experiences.Back to contents
A lot of your time as a student will be spent on placement and seeing the theory being put into practice can raise many questions.
If you have concerns while undertaking your placement, firstly speak with your supervisor or mentor. Also, read your placement or student handbook to find out how to deal with these difficulties.Back to contents
If you fail your practice assessment, you should have been made aware of your development needs earlier in the placement.
You are entitled to additional time to address your learning and practice needs if you did not receive a mid-point interview or feedback about your need to develop.
If you fail an assignment, placement or examination, you would usually be offered an opportunity to re-sit.
If you still fail to meet the required standard following the attempts allowed under the course regulations, you can consider an academic appeal.
You can't appeal against academic judgement, but you could appeal if you believe that the judgement was not made fairly or in line with university process. You would need to follow your university’s academic appeal regulations.Back to contents
Situations which may be classed as grounds for appeal are as follows:
Read your student handbook to understand your university's assessment process, policies and procedures, as well as appeal time limits. Seek support from your personal or link-tutor and mentor and/or your Student Union.
If you have exhausted the appeals procedure and the issue is still unresolved, consider contacting the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
If you believe your place on the course or your NMC registration may be at risk as a result of the failure, please contact us as soon as possible on 0345 772 6100.Back to contents
If you have other concerns about your studies that you want to raise, such as deficiencies in the University’s standards of service or the quality of supervision or tuition, try and resolve them informally. If you are not satisfied with the response, read your university’s student complaints procedure to decide what to do next.Back to contents
Any conduct, behaviour or other matter that could bear on your suitability for fitness to practise (or for dealing with patients) which comes to light during your studies will be handled under your University’s Fitness to Practise procedure.
Instances where the procedure might apply include concerns about character (such as convictions, plagiarism, falsifying records), serious unmanaged or untreated health problems, misconduct (abuse of patients or colleagues) or lack of competence.
If you believe your place on the course or your NMC registration may be at risk as a result of a Fitness to Practise investigation, please contact us as soon as possible on 0345 772 6100.Back to contents
For information on student electives please see our guide on student electives overseas.
The RCN indemnity scheme will cover student members wishing to undertake elective placements abroad, subject to the conditions and exclusions explained in the indemnity document, and provided you are undertaking a health and social care activity acceptable to the RCN scheme.Back to contents
Familiarise yourself with the 'students' section of the NMC website which outlines what is expected of you.
As a student you should not participate in any procedure that you are not fully prepared for, or which is not adequately supervised. If you find yourself in this situation, discuss the matter as quickly as possible with your mentor or personal tutor.
There may be times when you may not be directly accompanied by your mentor, supervisor or another registered colleague. This may happen in emergency situations. As your skills, experience and confidence develop you will become increasingly able to deal with these situations but in the early stages of your education, you must not participate unless you are fully prepared and supervised.
Guidance for registered nurses seeking to delegate tasks to nursing students is available from the NMC. In particular, registered nurses should review the NMC’s Standards to Support Learning and Assessment in Practice (2008).Back to contents
As a nursing student, you should not be rostered to work on the ward or within the sphere of nursing as a nurse.
Students are placed on the ward or within a sphere of nursing to undertake a clinical placement and meet certain learning needs. You should not be placed in a situation where adequate levels of support cannot be guaranteed. You are not placed 'to make up the numbers'.
If you are concerned that you are being required to carry out nursing duties, please call us on 0345 772 6100.Back to contents
You may undertake a health care support role but you should not undertake any role which is beyond your competence/skill base. Please see our information for healthcare assistants (HCAs) and assistant practitioners (APs).
Before agreeing to work as a health care assistant you should:
It should be clearly understood by all staff that you are working as a health care assistant and not in a nursing student capacity.
Even though you will not be working by virtue of your status as a student nurse, you should still follow the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) guidance for student nurses available from the NMC website.
When you have successfully completed your course, your University will submit your course completion and contact details to the NMC. The NMC will then send you a letter with your activation code and details of how to complete your application to join the register online. Ensure your University has your correct contact details so that this process isn’t delayed.
Your University will also send a declaration of health and character to support your application and, in your application to the NMC, you must also declare your health and character. This includes informing the NMC of relevant convictions, cautions or pending charges.
Read the NMC’s After you qualify information.Back to contents
Our Student Money Guide will help you get the best out of your bursary and the benefits available to you a student member.
If you are concerned about your financial situation, use your University’s student services. They may offer specialist money advice on budgeting, funding, hardship and consumer issues.
You can also contact Turn 2 Us, a national charity that helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services.Back to contents