Placements and patients are about more than hospitals!

11 January 2017

Following our recent guest blog by Crystal Oldman of the QNI,  Birmingham City University shares its success in increasing primary care placement capacity.

Emma Winterman, Kevin Crimmons and Michael Adams, Birmingham City University

The NHS Five Year Forward View (NHS England, 2014) has set out a transformational vision for community and primary care health care delivery. In order to ensure its delivery the employment of the right people with the correct skills and values, in sufficient numbers, is imperative. This is particularly in light of the looming Primary Care workforce crisis where a predicted 33% of the General Practice Nursing (GPN) workforce is due to retire by 2020 (QNI, 2016).

GPN placements in particular have, for some time, remained largely inaccessible to pre-registration nurse trainees. This has resulted in a lack of understanding of what the role entails and misconceptions around career entry points thus rendering it a rarely considered career choice for the newly qualified registrant.

Birmingham City University (BCU) in recognition of these workforce development requirements, alongside the desire to remain contemporary within the rapidly changing health care landscape, whilst also offering our student learners both wide a varied learning opportunities; actively sought to address this challenge.

In 2014 BCU in partnership with South Doc Services launched a pilot project to explore and assess the viability of establishing adult field student nurse placements within Primary Care. Supported by Health Education West Midlands, the initial pilot project saw the establishment of six GPN placements within the South of the City. Both mentors and students evaluated the experience positively and the pilot resulted in one of the students entering into a GPN career at the point of registration, augmenting the small 2% of male nurses within this field (QNI, 2016).

The success of the pilot saw its extension into a second phase; four of the original pilot sites were joined by an additional six sites from the Solihull region supported by Solihull CCG. Again the placement experiences were highly rated by both the mentors and students leading to four mentors undertaking additional sign off mentor training in order to welcome students for their final sign off placements. Phase two resulted in two students being directly recruited into Primary Care on qualification.

We at BCU have continued to build on these initial pilot successes and taking the lessons learnt have now established over 30 GPN placements through partnership working with the recently established Community Education Provider Networks (CEPN). In acknowledging the time and resources required to support this development BCU have recruited a full time academic project lead. Over the course of the last two years we have established a planned and well supported learning journey for our students which enables them to consider careers in community and general practice nursing. This has included the development of innovative year one exposure pathways in Urgent out of Hours services, planned placement preparation activities and support, targeted careers advice, dedicated mentorship support, development and resources, making this now a sought after placement option.

General practice nursing placements have offered our students the opportunity to gain a wealth of experience. Students continue to evaluate their learning experiences positively consistently feeding back the significant impact on their learning their GPN placements have had. This has included their exposure to full multi-disciplinary team working, the exceptional role modelling that takes place from their mentors and the opportunities to experience all fields of nursing. The model is currently being replicated towards developing student nurse placements in other community based setting such as Nursing Homes.


DH (2014) Five year forward view London: NHS England

Queens Nursing Institute (2016) Transition to General Practice Nursing London: Queens Nursing Institute


Emma Winterman, Senior lecturer & Project Lead for Community and Practice Nurse Placement Development, Birmingham City University

Kevin Crimmons, Associate Professor & Head of the Department of Adult Nursing, Birmingham City University

Michael Adams Associate Professor and Associate Head of School – Nursing and Midwifery, Birmingham City University

One response to “Placements and patients are about more than hospitals!”

  1. Thank you so much – it is just fabulous to see this blog.
    Thank you so much for sharing your work. This will inspire others to do the same, raising the profile of General Practice Nursing as an exciting and fulfilling career option – and addressing the very real shortage of practice nurses.

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