Meeting healthcare students I never fail to be struck by how committed and passionate they are about the work they do. They want to do the best for their patients and provide the highest quality care they can.
We often talk about influencing the workforce of tomorrow, but that misses the point that students are already scattered throughout our healthcare system today. They are therefore in prime position to help bring about positive change. Students are ‘fresh eyes’ on the healthcare system, and often identify opportunities that exist to improve, where colleagues who are so busy already doing the job might miss.
Nakita is a nursing student from Glyndwr University who took part in the person-driven care competition 1000 Lives Plus ran with students. Nakita explored the importance of dignity and planned a small test of change to reduce the risk of infection through improving hand hygiene. She told me: “I learned how as a student I can make small improvements, which can have a big impact on the care my patients and their families receive.”
A common mantra in quality improvement is that we all have two jobs – to do our work and to improve our work. It’s important that students understand they have two jobs too. They need to learn, but they also need to learn how to improve. Through the 1000 Lives Plus Student and Educator Community, students across Wales are learning how to make changes to improve the care of patients.
Nakita is one of four students from Wales who are here at the International Forum this week – attending was the prize for taking part in the competition. She believes this opportunity will make a huge difference to the way she works – “Attending the Forum this week has been such a privilege and I can’t wait to put the knowledge I’ve gained into action!”
Equipping students with the right skills, support and opportunities is essential to empower these innovative eyes on the healthcare system, and ensure they are an integral part of the improvement journey happening in NHS Wales.
We need to ensure that students are supported to improve and given the confidence to achieve change. Over the past year, 1000 Lives Plus has been working in partnership with educators and practice mentors in the development of a core set of quality improvement teaching resources. With the launch of Improving Quality Together, educators have identified this as an opportunity to incorporate quality improvement teaching into education programmes.
We can feel reassured knowing that students like Nakita are not only committed to delivering excellent care, but will also have the tools and confidence to keep making care even better.