Special recognition for student nurse mentors

A district nursing team which ensures student nurses are equipped with vital experience of working in the community has been shortlisted for a national award.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust’s district nursing team in Teesdale has been jointly shortlisted with Teesside University for the Student Placement of the Year: Community category of The Student Nursing Times Awards 2020.

Sandra Smyth, who leads the district team in Teesdale which has been shortlisted for the award, is currently completing the MSc Apprenticeship in Global Leadership and Management in Healthcare at Teesside University.

Sandra, team leader for TAP (Teams Around Patients), covering the Dales and Barnard Castle district, said: “We are a community placement for students who are studying at Teesside University. We take students as pre-registration at various stages in their training also return to practice students.

“We are clinical practice teachers and mentors and support post-graduate students undertaking a specialist qualification.

“Staff members maintain their competency by attending regular updates and often support the University on programme boards.”

Sandra added: “I feel that teaching, coaching, mentoring is a role embedded deeply in nursing. We have to ensure our students are future proofed.

“In Teesdale, we do this by immersing the students in our team culture. They are allocated a mentor prior to their arrival, so from day one will have a valued experience.

“All mentors are engaged in ensuring that the competencies are met. We use the wider multi-disciplinary team to offer key experiences such as GP, Macmillan, physiotherapy and social worker colleagues.”

The Student Nursing Times award category is to recognise community settings which manage the anxieties associated with completing placements by providing a structured learning environment which helps students to flourish, while ensuring they are supported to learn, practise skills and gain wisdom from the wider team.

Rachel Doubleday, senior lecturer in community and childhood studies in the university’s School of Health & Life Sciences, nominated the team for the award.

She said: “The team helps to provide placements for a range of healthcare students from Teesside, ranging from nursing associate and pre-registration student nurses, to student district nurses and paramedic students, to name a few.

“I am immensely proud of everything the Teesdale community nursing team has achieved and the supportive and positive ethos they all have to both patient care and learning.

“All are valued, whatever their level of study or course and all are supported to be the best they can be. This means the patient care for this remote and diverse area is excellent as well as the students being supported to achieve in their courses.

“Being shortlisted for this national award is an amazing achievement.”

Midwife Alison Anderson who studied at Teesside University has also been shortlisted for a Student Nursing Times award. The Student Nursing Times 2020 winners will be announced in November.