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Student nurses on placement – collaborators or challengers

Pat Clarke (School of Nursing and Allied Health, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 12 October 2015




All nursing students have the opportunity to gain experience in the Independent Sector. The Health and Social Care Act (2012) in the UK has led to more health services being provided by the Independent Sector. The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions of first year student nurses of their learning experience in nursing homes placements within the Independent Sector.


Two focus groups were undertaken with first year student nurses, one with six students and the other with seven students. All students had completed four week clinical placements in nursing homes. The focus groups were semi structured. Thematic analysis was undertaken on the data.


Important themes that emerged from the data included: leadership issues, poor practice relating to infection control and manual handling, team dynamics, commitment to addressing issues when raised and challenges to raising issues within the placement area. The findings provided an insight into some of the barriers for student nurses when raising issues. The decision to raise concerns was multifactorial and complex. Attention was also focused on the relationship between the mentor and the student and the impact that can have on the learning environment.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations for this study included: this was a small scale study, the findings were from a small number of placement areas within a small geographical area of the UK. Some students may have felt reluctant to share their views in a focus group. The findings reflect the views of first year student nurses only. However, first year students can provide an alternative view of a placement area. Their lack of experience can be an opportunity to question accepted norms with the mentor, acting as a resource of new ideas.


This paper identified opportunities and challenges for student nurses and education providers alike. For the student it was the complexities of raising issues and for the education provider it was equipping students with the knowledge and skills to raise such issues not only as a student but also upon qualification.



The author would like to thank the student nurses who participated in this study for their contributions. The author would like to also thank the colleagues within the school who have supported in writing this paper.


Clarke, P. (2015), "Student nurses on placement – collaborators or challengers", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 287-295.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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