Exploring the value of Student Nurse Opinion

One outcome of feedback and responses on Care Opinion (the leading independent website for patient stories) is a public online resource of real-life experiences of patients and carers, in near-real-time, which is constantly growing.  As such, it represents both an exciting resource across education but specifically for all those involved in the training of future health and social care professionals.  

Patients and carers have been coming onto Care Opinion for over 10 years to tell their story publicly and directly to providers, commissioners and other stakeholders in health care.  Student nurses, also started to see their own chance to tell their story-give their own perspectives on the care they witnessed.  See here for an early example:  "Second Shift of my first placement"

The invitation on the Care Opinion site to Tell Your Story, is a powerful and gentle way into an online conversation.   Student Nurses therefore learn the importance early, of this social movement towards public accountability for health services, very clearly endorsed by the Frances North Staffs Inquiry and subsequent major reports.

South London Health Education England have funded Care Opinion to work with providers of health care and Kingston University to pilot a project designed  to scale up student nurse postings on Care Opinion.  In turn this will provide value to each stakeholder, who are all set up as part of the same subscription to be alerted to, read and respond to postings coming from student nurses posting reflections about placement experiences.  These postings will typically provide both reflections of the care they witnessed and also about the quality of the learning environment.  To date the pilot has worked with a small cohort of students coming through their mental health training at Kingston University, predominantly going through placements at South West London St Georges Trust.

It was encouraging early on to see some of the comments from the students of their past experiences.  These were gathered at an initial workshop with students at Kingston University:   Student Placement Comments

So lets have a look at the different perspectives: 

Tim Hunt- Integration Lead at Care Opinion

 –For us,we have focussed on the process of student nurses using Care Opinion.  This has meant looking at how we make it safe for students to post experiences on the site.  We have developed resources on the site, videos and information to help students log in and post experiences.  We have needed to build ways to put large numbers of students on subscriptions.  Its been very exciting to see insightful stories coming through, positive and negative.  As we move beyond the pilot stage we will be reviewing the resources to make it easier for staff and students to quickly understand the process and share feedback.


Anderson Pustam-Honorary Senior Lecturer, South West London St Georges

Student Opinion is another variable in which students can share their experiences and offer feedback whereby students, service users and Trust staff can learn from these comments.  It’s also a great quality assurance measure as responses are received directly within the Trust governance structure.  As a result students can get immediate feedback, and any potential concerns raised can be responded to and managed appropriately by the Trust to enhance the patient experience. As a Trust we are more transparent than ever before, and welcome feedback from all our stakeholders such as students.  We have embraced the importance of information technology, and recognise that the local population we serve, can easily get online access to quickly offer their feedback. We continue to welcome this.


Dr Iris Gault-Associate Professor Mental Health Nursing, Kingston University

It’s been an interesting and educational experience. Students were initially wary of posting comments about their potential future place of employment. However, gradually, they started to post and to comment on the site. They took some time to gain trust in the process but discovered that it was perfectly safe to comment upon their experience. In fact, the majority of comments were positive about the support they received from their qualified colleagues.We feel that it would be best to introduce student opinion in the first year to allow more time for students to learn about student opinion.


Here is a link to the relevant postings on the site:  Student Nurse Feedback

You will see examples of insights into the impact of the learning environment  “Mentor was quite thorough with my learning outcomes and this propelled me to draw knowledge from all my 3 years of practice!”, and “my mentor demonstrated highest level of courage, perseverance and compassion” also some insights into the care provided-“During the placement, I observed that service users were treated with respect by all members of the staff and “each individual service user was involved in their own care plans” and “The staff are very compassionate and innovative in terms of using current evidence based therapies such as reminiscence therapies”.

James Munro the CE of Care Opinion says “Over the past 10 years, patient experience has come to be seen as one of the three quality pillars of modern health care, alongside safety and effectiveness. And so, increasingly, the education and training of healthcare professionals is emphasising not only anatomy and physiology, but also experience, communication and culture”.

Capturing Student Nurse Experience and involving them early in this movement towards greater transparency, generates value both in a specific sense for key participants but also for the wider public and health communities.