• Project 2000;
  • nursing;
  • education;
  • midwifery;
  • health service providers;
  • clinical placements;
  • mentors;
  • supervision;
  • costs;
  • benefits;
  • health economics

Should service providers be paid for providing pre-registration clinical placements?

The authors have argued elsewhere that second- and third-year student nurses and midwives on ward-based clinical placements make a service contribution which is of significant value to the service provider. The value of the service contribution made by students in community-based clinical placements is lower, not least because such placements cannot free staff time in the same way as on the wards, and thus the presence of students appears to form a cost to the service provider. It is clear that there is no case for introducing a system of payments for ward-based placements, but in community-based placements the position is less obvious. The argument hinges upon the perceived value to the service provider of the qualitative benefits associated with the presence of students on placement. Other studies have suggested that these benefits are such as to outweigh the associated costs. Because the presence of students on clinical placement is associated with both costs and benefits, efforts should be made to ensure that both ward-based and community-based placements are distributed as fairly as possible between locations so that no one location is unduly advantaged or disadvantaged by the number of students which it receives.