Student nurse support network success featured in NHS newsletter

12 Jan 2024
Two female student nurses talking next to skeleton. One has back to camera

A support network for student nurses at the University of Winchester has been featured in the latest NHS southeast RePAIR newsletter.

The Student Nurses Assisting Peers (SNAP) project began in December 2022 to give extra help to students at risk of dropping out of their courses.

SNAP, funded by Health Education England, was designed by student nurses for student nurses.

The students created an holistic peer support service tailored to nursing students’ unique set of professional, academic, and personal needs.

High rates of attrition from pre-registration nursing programmes are a serious and costly concern across the UK which has a shortage of healthcare professionals.

A range of factors including personal, financial, academic, and issues with placements can lead to students dropping out.

However, studies have shown that a strong peer support network, a positive social environment and sense of belonging can help student nurses overcome these obstacles and complete their courses.

To date, more than 60 student nurses at Winchester have used the peer support service, and it has created employment for 17 student nurses.

The service has been evaluated positively, rating an average score of 4.75 out of 5 to the question: “How well did the session met your needs?”

Data shows that student nurses felt the SNAP project had good potential to reduce attrition, by helping student nurses feel less alone with problems, providing a safe space to talk and receive signposting to the help.

Interviews with student nurses revealed that peer support had encouraged them to keep going through difficult times.

One student commented: “…it's just nice getting to know other nursing students because our course is so different and no one else really understands it.”

The student nurses who have been trained to deliver peer support have reported gaining valuable knowledge and skills, expressing a sense of reward, purpose, and empowerment in being able to contribute to the success of their peers and the wider nursing profession. 

SNAP has been adopted into the University of Winchester central provision, which will allow the service to continue indefinitely.

To maximise its effectiveness, the needs of student nurses and the service will be evaluated continuously.  

Project Co-ordinator Chrissy Bird said: “This project has placed Winchester Nursing students at the centre of the solution to building a resilient workforce of the future. It aspires to equip them to confidently enter their professional lives as competent, compassionate healthcare professionals able to offer high quality care to their patients, their colleagues and themselves.”

Deputy Head of Nursing at the University, Ian Winkworth, said: “Many of our students speak really highly of the project and the impact it has had on their experience."

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