How Can Digital and Mobile Assessment Support the New NMC Standards?

The new NMC standards, which can be put into practice from January 2019, offer an opportunity for Nursing educators across the UK to innovate, take advantage of technology and take assessment of students in practice to the next level.

Whether you currently have a paper-based approach to assessment in practice, or a digital approach, the new 2018 NMC standards offer the opportunity to re-evaluate your assessment process. With a need to consider new workflows, roles and ways of supporting students and staff in practice, a digital assessment platform with mobile app for capturing assessment on practice, offers the structure to support the new NMC standards, as well as support teaching and learning in practice.

What new assessment challenges does the 2018 NMC standards propose?

A common challenge all nursing educators face irrespective of the new NMC standards is the ability to keep track of student progress and performance whilst they are on placement. Students are not only geographically dispersed, but could be on placement across any number of partner Trusts or within the community, making remote support for that student a vital requirement.  With the new standards in place, students now have Practice Assessors, Practice Supervisors and Academic Assessors supporting them throughout their placement and throughout their course.  As such, it is important for all staff involved in a student’s learning to have full visibility of the student’s performance and progress against the new standards to ensure safe and effective learning experiences.  Equally as important is for that student to have visibility of their own progress, assessments and feedback in one place to drive independent learning.

Another key change to the standards is the introduction of Practice Supervisors and the ability for any registered nurse, midwife or health and care professional to be a Practice Supervisor, even if they are newly qualified. A student may also have a number of Practice Supervisors who work together to support the student with a team-based approach. Practice Supervisors, although known and registered to your assessment process, will require support, induction and training – it is therefore important that the digital or mobile assessment platform does not pose any challenges in inducting new members of staff and is easy for the Supervisor to use to carry out their responsibilities.

With the new network of support for the student under the new standards, being able to remotely support and engage with students as well as other members of staff involved in that student’s learning is more important than ever.  A digital and mobile assessment platform can provide staff with opportunities to engage and share information regarding the student, as well as overcome the challenges we’ve discussed.  By offering a digital assessment platform on mobile, and adding in a portfolio for that student and staff to see performance, feedback and assessments in one place – it takes assessment to the next level.  However, moving to digital or mobile assessment technology requires some additional considerations which you may or may not have thought of before.  In the next part of this article we go through some of these key considerations.

What should you consider when adopting a digital / mobile assessment platform under the new standards?

  1. Does the digital assessment technology support assessment via a mobile app?

 Moving to digital assessment technology allows the student to have a complete view of their performance against the standards, see feedback and have all of their assessments ready to complete in one place.  This is great – except it can be difficult to easily use a digital or online platform in a clinical setting.  Through moving to mobile assessment technology, assessment is made all the more accessible to the student and supporting staff - all they have to do is hand over their device to the Practice Assessor to start.  Having this flexibility empowers the student to carry out a competency assessment in the moment, take control of their learning and actively identify learning opportunities.

  1. Does the mobile assessment app work offline?

Carrying out assessment on a mobile app has many benefits, but there is one important factor to consider with this approach – what if WiFi isn’t accessible or the student has no network coverage in the hospital?  How can they access their assessment mobile app? Clinical settings are notorious for having little or no WiFi or network coverage, therefore a key consideration when adopting a mobile assessment app is does it work offline? Will relevant assessments be available to the student offline and can they be completed offline?

  1. Can the mobile assessment app support Practice Supervisors new to assessment?

As we mentioned, Practice Supervisors can be any registered nurse, midwife or health and care professional under the new NMC Standards.  To enable them to offer the right support for the student and provide quality feedback and recommendations, the assessment process needs to be quick to pick up and easy to understand.  Using a mobile assessment app which already looks like other apps they may use or a view they are already familiar with can make a huge difference to the assessment process.  Practice Supervisors will feel comfortable with the mobile app as well as be supported in providing feedback quickly and easily – something that is vital in busy clinical settings.  Whilst we’re also on this subject – it’s important to also take note of the types of assessment and ways of providing feedback the mobile app offers.  Can you easily tick and sign off competencies? Can you provide video or audio feedback to speed up the process and add more value during or post-assessment.

  1. Can the mobile app support more than one Practice Supervisor for one student?

We also mentioned that a student may have more than one Practice Supervisor who work together to support the student with a team-based approach – with this in mind a key consideration here is whether the mobile assessment app can allow the student to gather feedback from multiple supervisors?

  1. Can the digital assessment platform enable Practice Assessors, Supervisors and Academic Assessors to communicate effectively around a student’s learning?

With the introduction of a wider network of staff to support a students’ learning whilst on practice and throughout their course, it is vital for staff to have clear view of student progress and performance and for that view to be relevant to their role.  A key thing to consider here is whether the digital assessment platform can enable remote communication between staff roles on assessment and performance? 

Overall, in this time of change the new NMC standards offer an exciting opportunity for Nursing educators across the UK to improve the quality of student learning not only whilst on placement but across their entire course.  This is a time for innovation and to not only take advantage of the structure and support learning and assessment technology can bring to the new NMC standards, but take learning to the next level and future-proof it.