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Recruiting nurses in the post-Francis NHS

After high mortality rates were registered in Stafford hospital in 2008, a full investigation and public enquiry were carried out. The outcome of the latter, The Francis Report, was published earlier this year, telling a grim story of negligence and unaccountability. Of course the appalling standards of practice displayed by nurses then are not generalised. However, no-one can deny that the public eye is, more than ever, on the nursing profession, and that the Francis Report will have an impact on how nurses are recruited.

In the post-Francis NHS, there is much emphasis put on ensuring that the new recruits are assessed on values and behaviours such as compassion and integrity. Wanting to do it is no longer enough, you will be expected to demonstrate that you will put patients first. Student nurses must prepare themselves for assessment methods that used to be rare in the sector. But, how will recruiters assess compassion?

  • Cathy Taylor, Careers Advisor at Royal College of Nursing, advises students to keep a portfolio of evidence when on placement. This could give you an edge in the recruitment process. Your portfolio can include positive feedback and your reflective learning logs.
  • Assessment Centres are likely to become more common. These could include group discussions around real patient stories, in which aspiring nurses would be assessed on to what extent they put patients first and how they deal with ethical dilemmas. The NHS website has advice on assessment centres. Also, don’t forget to check our guide.
  • There might be some sort of personality profiling tests, although recruitment decisions can’t be based solely on these. Here is an interesting blog post on how this might work.
  • Personal statements and value-based interviewing. Be prepared to discuss your values, their relevance and why they are important to you!

There has been much discussion around whether one can measure compassion or not. Regardless, what student nurses can do now is getting familiar with these recruitment methods. Make sure they don’t catch you unaware!

Estanis Bouza

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