Third year adult nursing students were offered the opportunity to join the interview panels for the selection of candidates wishing to gain a place on the adult nursing programme at Bournemouth University. Ten volunteer students were recruited and attended a foundational training programme. Students committed to attending five interview sessions and joined an academic, a nurse from practice and, on some occasions, a service user on the interview panels. The interview cycle commenced in mid-December 2015 and continued until mid-July 2016, and involved over 950 interviews.
Following the interviews 3rd year student nurses Alice Smith, Natalie Brown and Amie Hurworth joined with Dr Anne Mills to develop questions within the Bristol online survey, to better understand the impact of their contribution to the process. Two surveys were developed and sent out electronically to the different groups; participating student nurses and academics. Extra questions, relating to student nurses joining the interview panels, were added to the questionnaire sent to all interviewed candidates.
The overwhelming response from the candidates was very positive and many stated that they felt reassured and more at ease because of the presence of the student nurse within the interview. Candidates also felt comfortable asking students directly about placement opportunities and experiences and their responses provided a ‘lived experience’ which provided candidates with valuable insights into the programme.
Feedback from academics was generally positive with the majority of academics stating they enjoyed the experience and valued the input from students. Most academics recognised that candidates were less nervous when students were involved and that candidates were more likely to ask students about their programme experiences and valued their insights. Some academics thought that students were able to provide better advice than themselves and that students offered candidates aspiration opportunities, whilst showing enthusiasm for Bournemouth University. A few academics wanted the students to have a more comprehensive training, with mock interviews. Several academics found interviewing stressful and time consuming as they felt they had to support the student and conduct the interview. However despite the identified challenges, all of the academics said they would interview again with a student.
All third year student nurses found their contribution to interviewing to be valued and interesting experience; one which provided awareness into the behind the scene interview processes. These experiences were helpful in their own interviews for registered nurse posts and provided advantageous management opportunities, where they were able to learn and work towards developing the skills necessary to conduct interviews in the workplace, once qualified.
Overall involving third year student nurses into the interview process was seen as successful and the practice will be continued with some changes; including the provision of joint interview training for students and service users, as well as mock interviews.
Involving existing students in interview panels demonstrates that the nursing programme at BU views students as equals partners in learning and seeks to offer imaginative opportunities to support students to develop the skills required for the workplace. The practice also sends a positive message to potential students highlighting that BU places high regard on student contributions.
Winning the co-creation award spurred us on to submit an abstract for the NET conference in Cambridge; unfortunately although we were accepted we had to cancel our attendance, as the conference coincides with Alice, Natalie and Amie starting their new posts as registered nurses. However the research was presented at a study day on Service Users and Carers involvement in the Values Based Recruitment process at Bournemouth University and the team are currently working on disseminating this research in an article for a nursing journal.
Authors: Alice Smith, Natalie Brown, Amie Hurworth and Dr Anne Mills.