Category Archives: Nursing education

Is group work actually any good for the individuals’ learning?

Does working as a group actually help us learn? by Dean Burnett

Have you ever wondered whether all that group work you have (had) to do at university was of much benefit for your own learning? Does the thought of another group assignment make you want to vomit? Whether it does or not, I advise you read this excellent piece on group/team learning by Dean Burnett, where he covers many of the pros and cons of learning in groups. Bear in mind though that for all the potential faults associated with learning in a group, nurses have to work in teams, and effective teamwork is essential to get the best outcomes for our patients.

TBL in action - Medical Students announcing their team answers to their group-work, Tulane University

TBL in action – Medical Students announcing their team answers to their group-work, Tulane University

Evidence is starting to suggest that team-based learning  (TBL) is an effective strategy for promoting the development of skills and knowledge required of 21st century nurses, including that of critical thinking (for example). For that reason I’ve started introducing TBL into the nursing curriculum at BU in the teaching of applied pathophysiology (I’ll be presenting results on the evaluation of this at NET2016 in Cambridge, September 2016 – suffice to say the results are looking good).

The benefits of working as a team is not just about individual learning of course. As Burdett concludes, ‘It’s rare to encounter an employer or institute that doesn’t emphasise “teamwork skills” these days, and in our increasingly interconnected society, learning how to be part of a group is something worth working on, regardless of the task itself”. So, learn to love the team…

NB. A group of individuals may remain just that, and not function as an team. So with group work we also want to encourage the development of effective teams.

Sepsis – a guide for new nurses and student nurses in A&E

SEPSIS acronymn

Sepsis – A guide for New Nurses and Student Nurses in Emergency Care” a blog by Tom Hreben a registered nurse who works in emergency.

Student nurses particularly will find this blog interesting. Also note the comments at the bottom of the blog which highlight that sepsis pathways are likely to change. This is largely because the SIRS criteria cast quite a wide net, in other words, someone might score on two of the criteria, but not have SIRS, and further, not have sepsis. So watch this space for the pathway criteria changing. If you want to know more about why it is recommended to change the criteria, click here .

Will Parliamentary debate on 11th January 2016 save the NHS Bursary for student nurses?

Keep the NHS Bursary

NHS Student Bursaries

At the moment, student nurses do not pay tuition fees and receive a means tested bursary during their training, but Government plan to end the NHS bursary. If you are an existing  student nurse please do not panic – your bursary is safe. It is not safe however for your future colleagues (those starting first year in the 2017-18 academic year) who look set to miss out on this financial help which is a necessity for many  student nurses who are typically too busy studying and looking after patients to earn much money during their studies, unlike students studying most other programmes.

You may have noticed the online petition, ‘Keep the NHS Bursary’. Government responds to all petitions than get more than 10,000 signatures; this petition has received, so far, 145,250 signatures, so it will be debated in Parliament on 11th January 2016. Have you signed it?

In partnership with @WeNurses and London South Bank University there will be a digital debate on the NHS Bursary on Twitter on 6 January from 6-8pm. This will be a chance to share your thoughts, feelings and experiences on this subject. This chat will feed into the Westminster Hall debate on 11 January. Get involved on #WeNurses. And maybe you could attend the live debate at London South Bank University? See if there are tickets available by clicking here.

If you want to contact your local MP before the debate to encourage them to take part and raise the issues that concern you, you can find out who they are and how to contact them here:

The next thing you can do is watch Parliament debate the petition on the 11th January 2016. It will be online at, so you can find out some of the arguments for and against scrapping the bursary. Which argument will win?

Acknowledgement: Much of the information above was gratefully received from The Petitions Team, UK Government and Parliament.

It’s World Antibiotic Week. What can you do to decrease overuse of antibiotics?

World Antibiotics Week: 16-22 November 2015



Why have a World Antibiotics Week? Well, put simply, as highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health today. WHO is leading a global campaign ‘Antibiotics: Handle with Care‘ calling on individuals, governments, health and argiculture professionals to take action to address this urgent problem. What could you do?

First of all, as a (future) healthcare professional you need to be aware of the dangers of antibiotic resistance and be able to help your patients when they ask your advice as regards the use of antibiotics. Check out an excellent blog from Evidently Cochrane that suggests that shared decision making between doctors and patients is one way that unneccessary antibiotic prescribing might be achieved. Secondly, as a potential patient yourself seeking treatment in future, be prepared that in some instances not prescribing antibiotics may be the best option.

 For more information and to learn more about how you can support the Antibiotics: Handle with Care campaign click here. Also, see my related blogpost on antimicrobial resistance.

End-of-life care: Getting it right every time

RCN launches new end of life care resource

Getting it right every time RCN

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has developed a new resource, Getting it right every time. This resource has been designed to offer support in the delivery of appropriate end of life care alongside existing training. It has been developed in line with the Getting it right every time: nutrition and hydration at the end of life online resource which can be used for more in depth learning around delivery of nutrition and hydration care at the end of life.

Who is it for?

This resource is for you if you are a registered nurse, student nurse, health care assistant (HCA) or assistant practitioner working in any setting or specialism. The aim is to give you an understanding of your role when it comes to meeting the needs of people with life limiting illnesses. You can work through this resource at your own pace either all at once, or by one of the “bite sized” pieces of learning whenever it is convenient for you.

It might also be useful for others in health and social care. Members of the public may also find the content of this resource valuable.

Acknowledgement of sources: The first paragraph is taken from the RCN Quality and Safety eBulletin and the second from Getting it right every time. 


What do you think about assisted dying?

‘Effectively Advancing Equality and Human Rights’
by Pavan Dhaliwal, Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns at the British Humanist Association

“Humanists have always been at the forefront of promoting a rational, secular approach to ethical issues in public policy, and the British Humanist Association (BHA) devotes much of its resources towards campaigning for equality and human rights. Pavan Dhaliwal will outline the BHA’s current campaigns on issues such as assisted dying, religious education, and pastoral care in hospitals, and explain how we can most effectively use our limited resources for maximum effect. One such method currently being explored is the use of ‘strategic litigation’ which can bring about significant changes in the law, legal practice and/or public awareness by taking carefullyselected test cases to court. Pavan heads the BHA’s public affairs team and is responsible for campaigns covering a wide range of issues including public services, equality law, ethical issues, religion and schools, and social cohesion. She is an equalities and human rights expert with a special interest in youth, criminal justice and education policy.”

Wednesday 28th October 7.30pm Green House Hotel, BH1 3AX

The above text originally appeared in the Dorset Humanists newsletter. No religious or a-religious views are being implied – this simply looks like a thought-provoking talk relevant to some of the situations nurses can find themselves in while caring for people at their most vulnerable. 

What is consciousness?

 ‘The Consciousness Conundrum’
by Dr Peter Naish – Open University

“What is consciousness, and how do physical processes in the brain give rise to the subjective life of a conscious mind? Simple animals like the amoeba presumably have no such experience, since they have no brain or nervous system, yet they can react to their surroundings well enough to survive without it. Many of our own cognitive functions such as perceiving objects, making decisions, and even performing apparently voluntary actions can take place without consciousness intervening, but if we can function without conscious awareness, why should consciousness be there at all? Is consciousness just an accidental by-product of having a large brain, or has it been selected for by evolution because creatures with consciousness have improved prospects for survival? Historically, questions about the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness have primarily been a topic for philosophers, but advances in neuroscience are bringing us closer to a scientific understanding. Peter Naish, a senior lecturer in cognitive psychology at The Open University, will be revealing many of the latest developments in our efforts to unravel the mysteries of consciousness.”

Saturday 10th October 2.00pm Moordown Community Centre, Coronation Avenue, BH9 1TW

The above text originally appeared in the Dorset Humanists newsletter. No religious or a-religious views are being implied – this simply looks like a thought-provoking talk relevant to some of the situations nurses can find themselves in while caring for people at their most vulnerable. 

Ever thought that emotional intelligence could save your life?

Emotional Intelligence Can Boost Your Career And Save Your Life
by Dr Travis Bradberry


We cover emotional intelligence in Fundamental Communication Skills so I’m not going to say too much here except to say that the post on LinkedIn by Dr Bradberry is an interesting and thought-provoking introduction to the possible benefits to you of this aspect of intelligence. Emotional intelligence is not just useful for yourself however but will make you a better nurse, hence it is an important factor in your ability to deliver effective care to your patients. Also on this topic ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman is definitely worth a read (yes, all of it!). For students at BU it’s available in the library. Happy reading.



The power of reflective writing to help ease the stress and strain of nursing

Reflective Writing as a Crucial Counterweight to Clinical Experience


I recently read ‘Reflective Writing as a Crucial Counterweight to Clinical Experience‘ by Amanda Anderson, a nurse in New York City and felt immediately compelled to share it with you. What better way to be convinced of the power of reflective writing than from somebody who is using it to help them cope with the stress and strain of daily practice?  You might like to reflect on how much writing you have been doing as a student nurse, especially when you are on clinical placement. You are, after all, required to keep a clinical log. Perhaps after reading this piece you might be convinced of the usefulness of regular writing, not simply for the sake of academic requirements but how that writing might help you personally cope with some of the trauma, psychological and otherwise, that nurses need to deal with? Notably, Amanda says “I didn’t make writing a regular practice during my first year of nursing – a choice I still regret”. You can make a different choice.

Student nurse? Would you like some money? Then check this out.

Cavell Nurses’ Trust Scholarship Awards

The Cavell Nurses’ Trust Scholarship scheme aims to recognise and celebrate student nurses and midwives from across the UK. Students have the opportunity to win Scholarship prize funds to be used for placements either abroad or in the UK. A runner up in each category will also win a laptop/tablet to help with their studies.

Cavell nurses trust logo

Applications open on 1st October 2015.

The applications are open only to students studying diploma courses, 2nd/3rd year undergraduates and postgraduate courses in nursing and midwifery in the United Kingdom.

The closing date for applications is 31st January 2016

For more information click here. Good luck!