- 23 September 2022
- 7 min read
Why I Think Student Nurses Should Be Paid For PlacementsSubscribe To Advice
Student Nurse, Lillie, discusses the financial realities of Nursing placements, outlining the reasons why she thinks Student Nurses should be paid for their time.
Student Nurses Are Required To Complete 2300 Hours Of Clinical Placements
Currently, Student Nurses are expected to complete 2300 hours of clinical placement throughout the three years of their program. This is part of the Standards for pre-registration Nursing programme from the Nursing and midwifery code of conduct.
So, in simple terms, you cannot qualify as a Nurse if you haven’t completed 2300 hours of Nursing placements. The university I attend has a blended approach to learning, therefore you attend clinical placement for 22.5 hours a week and have 2 university days alongside this.
Placements usually last between 10 to 12 weeks and should cover a range of specialities, such as; medicine, elderly care, community, fundamental skills, palliative, primary care and surgery.
In your final year of Nursing, hours on placement are increased in order to hone your skills and confidence. Nursing placements are essential as they teach you how to provide safe and effective care to patients.
They also help you develop your own knowledge and confidence as a practitioner. And help you identify which speciality you’d like to go into.
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Student Nurses Currently Don’t Get Paid For This Time
Student Nurses currently do not get paid for the hours they do on placement. This has been an ongoing topic of debate for quite some time. However, this hasn’t always been the case.
Student Nurses were given a grant to help fund study and there were no university fees. And more recently, as part of the NMC emergency standards during the Covid pandemic, final year Student Nurses were given the opportunity to be paid for their time working throughout the early stages of the pandemic.
However, this was cancelled after a few months after the NMC stated “they were no longer required.”
Why I Think Student Nurses Should Be Paid For Placements
Student Nurses should be paid for their placements. This is something I feel quite passionate about. And I’m not the only one. Over 49,000 people signed a petition calling for students to be paid in November 2020.
Due to the high amount of people taking part in this petition, the government were required to respond. The government responded with ‘Clinical placements provide supervised training. Student Nurses are not paid but receive financial support to train through student loans and non-repayable maintenance grant of at least £5,000 a year.’
There’s a big problem with this response. I can’t help but feel like Student Nurses are being gaslit by the government.
And I’d just like to walk you through the realities of being a Student Nurse.
The Nursing Bursary
The Nursing bursary we receive does not cover the cost of living. We receive £5000 for each year we study, although we don’t have to pay this back, it isn’t enough. Private rents in the UK are rising at the fastest rate in five years, reaching an average of £969 per month - however prices in London will have increased this figure.
This alongside inflation rates increasing by 5.5% dramatically raises the cost of living. Information provided by Newcastle University, states that the average living costs for a student the UK is £770 per month, multiple this by the 12 months of the year and you get a total of £9240.
The Cost Of Travel
Secondly, the cost of travelling to placement is costly. One of my placements in first year was an hour drive away. My university expects you to travel to a placement that is up to an hour away, they would consider reallocation if travel time was greater than an hour.
Although petrol is costly, you can claim miles back from the NHS learning fund, however you do have to minus the miles that it would usually travel to university. This is problematic as the majority of courses are online now due to the pandemic, yet you are expected to minus these miles you never travelled.
This can leave students out of pocket.
For some trusts you are also expected to pay for parking at your placement. At the moment this is free due to the pandemic but will inevitably be brought back, again leaving students out of pocket.
Cost Of Study
You have to pay to study Nursing. This costs a total of £9,250 a year, totalling £27,7750. Although this is paid via student loans, Nurses are expected to pay this gradually throughout their career.
There is also accumulating interest alongside this, in a way, it feels like a debt we’ll never pay off.
Some Nurses may choose to do a masters to progress to a higher pay grade, therefore costing an extra £9 grand.
In comparison to another public sector role, such as a police officers; if you already have a degree (in any subject), there's the option of a two-year work-based training programme which you are paid for.
Maybe studying to be a Nurse should adopt this supportive way of training.
It’s really hard to fit in part time work alongside clinical practice, lectures and assignments. Due to the nature of the job, you are expected to work unpredictable hours such as night shifts, long days, bank holidays and weekends.
Therefore making too hard to fit in part time work as a student.
Additional Financial Pressures
Alongside these financial pressures, Nursing student aren’t conventional student ages, Nursing attracts many mature students. And many of these have mortgages to pay and families to support.
Therefore, Student Nurses should be paid for the work they do. This is concerning as the financial pressures that come with being a Student Nurse could deter some people who would’ve been great Nurses.
What Do You Think?
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It’s Important That We Look After Our Student Nurses
And finally. It’s important that we look after our Student Nurses. Here in England, we are experiencing a NHS Staffing crisis. There are currently over 40,000 vacancies for Nurses within the NHS.
The royal college of Nurses suggests that this is due to economic factors such as losing staff from the European union, lack of higher pay and increased workloads.
Our Student Nurses are the future of the NHS, we should look after them. To conclude. It’s demoralising not being paid. Student Nurses work hard as part of a team.
Nursing is rewarding but it is a hard job, you deal with death, challenging behaviour and carry out demanding physical labour.