The NMC has said that nursing students can learn in simulated environments where conventional clinical practice is not possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The change forms part of a series of recovery and emergency standards introduced by the nursing regulator in response to coronavirus – such as allowing final year students to take up paid placements to help the effort against Covid-19.
Students can take up to 300 hours of simulation across their programme including peer learning, working with manikins and online practice learning. But their final placement must be spent in a conventional clinical care setting.
The NMC said the move towards simulated learning will ensure student nurses ‘have sufficient practical experience to qualify with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver safe, effective and kind nursing practice’.
Approved educational institutions can choose best how to apply this recovery standard by considering local circumstances, availability of placements and individual students’ need, it added.
The move comes amid concerns about the disruption of coronavirus on student learning with many struggling to find suitable placements.
NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘For some nursing students, we know [Covid-19] is affecting their ability to go into or experience practice placement opportunities in the usual way.
‘In these circumstances, we want to make sure further flexible solutions are available for educators so that high-quality learning outcomes and proficiencies can continue, and to support the journey from student to registered professional.
‘We will keep this recovery standard and all our standards under close review and look forward to hearing from our approved education institutions about how they use this flexibility so we can learn lessons for the future beyond the pandemic.’
RCN director for England Mike Adams said: ‘This has been a really challenging time for students with much of their learning being disrupted and many at a real risk of having their graduation date delayed due to challenges around placement availability.
‘We know that simulation can be an effective alternative way of learning and can be a more flexible practical learning tool to support students in progressing their studies.’
But he added that the change must be ‘closely monitored to ensure that students across the UK consistently continue to achieve the required standard of practice as they move towards registration’.