Elliott, Paula and Ormrod, Graham (2016) Understanding SCPHN students’ experience of practice educator led peer support groups. Community Practitioner, 89 (11). pp. 42-45. ISSN 1462-2815

Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN) students are expected to develop significant skills and competencies in practice whilst also achieving academic success. This workload can be very stressful for students particularly as their placements with Practice Educators can isolate them from other students, reducing the valuable support that peers can provide. Practice Educator led peer support groups were established in an attempt to ameliorate student stress and improve wellbeing by providing peer support whilst simultaneously delivering opportunities for learning and promoting preparedness for qualification. A service evaluation was subsequently conducted using focus group methodology to explore students’ experience of the peer support groups. This was to ascertain their effectiveness in supporting learning within practice placements and improving student wellbeing. Data analysis identified three key themes: ‘Peer support and Emotional nourishment’ and ‘Filling the Theory-Practice gap’, with a further theme focusing on ‘Group Organisation and Planning’ including ‘what would better look like?’. Findings indicated that the Support Groups were a valued and important element of SCHPN training for the student cohort involved in this service evaluation, engendering an improved sense of wellbeing and an enhanced educational experience.

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