As your elected member representative body, RCN Council wants to share our concerns about this move and explain how we will continue to support our student members.
We are keenly aware of the extraordinary measures needed to respond to the pandemic. No one is under any illusion, these are the most testing times for everyone working in our profession.
However, as a College, our priority for student members must be to protect their ability to continue their education, which includes both academic learning and clinical placements, so they can graduate in a timely manner and join the nursing workforce.
The individual decision to opt-in must be just that: an individual decision. Students must not be disadvantaged, either financially or in terms of their education, irrespective of their decision.
Employers and educators must take full responsibility for the supervision, support and wellbeing of any final year students who choose to opt-in, and those who choose not to.
Many students who volunteered last year didn’t complete their studies within the normal timeframe and this delayed their registration and their subsequent inclusion into the nursing workforce. It’s clear that this compounds an already long-standing and chronic staffing shortage.
We’re hearing anecdotally that some students believe the experience of opting-into a paid clinical placement in 2020 was damaging to their studies and future career prospects. Some felt that the virtual academic support they received was not an adequate substitute for personal interaction and did not prepare them appropriately for practice.
To support our student members this time around, we have set out eight guiding principles which outline a series of criteria which we expect to be met before a student embarks on a paid clinical placement.
The RCN Students Committee continues to represent the student voice, and as your RCN Council, we will support our student members every step of the way.
Chair, RCN Council