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Student Nurse Placements with a Public Health Team

Pam Hodge 29 May 2020

The Project: Barnet Public Health Team, RCN, and Middlesex University worked together to develop a local authority hosted public health placement specifically for pre-registration nursing students from any field.  

View the project poster: Developing public health placements for student nurses

To prepare pre-registration learners for the future workforce a variety of learning experiences in practice, including public health, are essential. The NMC (2018) Standards framework for nursing and midwifery education require all registrants to have an understanding and knowledge of public health agendas including health promotion strategies. It is in this context that the pilot project was conceived.

Two child health student nurses completed a five week placement. Both students and public health staff emphasised the beneficial and productive learning inherent in this unique experience.

Students report:

"When the opportunity to spend five weeks of our placement in Public Health we jumped at the chance! Public Health is all about our community including the decisions made for the prevention of diseases through immunisation programmes, community centres and family support, social prescribing, smoking cessation to name just a few.

Listening to the impact that the healthy schools project was inspiring. Growing their own vegetables at school AND being able to eat the produce! Healthy lives start with healthy children.”

The Learning:

The students reported the whole system learning was key to understanding the needs of local families, providing an opportunity to consider more expansive learning regarding young people who will be in their care:

  • Attending food-banks
  • Understanding infection control on a local population level
  • Focusing on the health promotion and illness prevention
  • National initiatives related to the wider social determinants of health.

Public Health perspective

Having students on placement in public health is a reciprocal learning opportunity. The students bring their recent theoretical learning and the staff could update themselves on for example, breastfeeding support or staff retention practices in the NHS.

University perspective

The evident success of this placement as a learning environment for the 2 students so far is exciting. Both considered the transferable skills gained, including enhanced communication, developing a more social model of health and being aware of the public health team roles. This includes the knowledge that public health may be a career choice in the future. Widening the learning opportunities for the learners in the locality is a key objective for the university. 

Benefits for Public Health Nurses

It can sometimes be perceived as a challenge for public health nurses to meet the NMC revalidation requirements. This placement was only possible as there was an NMC registered nurse to undertake the Practice Assessor role within the public health team. Facilitating student nurse placements is one way of demonstrating how they meet The Code’s requirement to support learners.


The local authority and university are committed to the project and demonstrated the benefits of this collaboration. 

Next steps

  • To continue to offer this experience to more nursing students in Barnet.
  • To present this experience to public health teams and HEIs in the hope to inspire others to consider this student placement opportunity.
  • To develop a toolkit for other localities to support the introduction of this type of placement.
Pam Hodge

Pam Hodge

Public Health Forum Member

Lecturer in Practice Learning

Pam is a registered mental health nurse and works in the Practice Based Learning Unit supporting students and nurses to develop and enhance practice learning.  She has a special interest in increasing student experience outside of hospital settings to facilitate more expansive learning within integrated health and social care teams.

Student B

Zoe Carciente third year CYP nursing student.

Jennae Cox

Jennae Cox third year CYP nursing student.

Project supported by Capital Nurse

Capital nurse logo

Page last updated - 17/01/2022