It’s a Balancing Act: Navigating the New Roles & Responsibilities within the New NMC Standards

In this blog post, we explore the new roles set out by the new NMC Standards and how an electronic Practice Assessment Document can support them.

Every Approved Educational Institution (AEI) and the relationship they have with their associated practice partners is different. That’s important.  We wouldn’t be innovative without our differences.  But when it comes to implementing an Electronic Practice Assessment Document (ePAD) which meets the new Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) Standards, those differences certainly pose some unique challenges. 

Traditionally, when using the paper PAD, the student has control and shares it with their supporting staff as and when required.  This has meant that the student has been the gatekeeper of their PAD and the student drives their learning.  But in some ways, this limits the amount of support staff members can provide them.  Without visibility of the PAD, staff cannot improve their feedback, facilitate early intervention, prepare for meetings and ultimately help that student on their journey to become a qualified graduate nurse.  This is what the new NMC Standards are all about, empowering the student through empowering the supporting staff around them, thus creating a powerful and supportive learning environment.


"Without visibility of the PAD, staff cannot improve their feedback, facilitate early intervention, prepare for meetings and ultimately help that student on their journey to become a qualified graduate nurse."


With the new NMC Standards, new roles are introduced: The Practice Assessor, Practice Supervisor and Academic Assessor.  Through these new roles, alongside the new Standards, the NMC has brought into being an inter-professional team which fully supports a student’s learning throughout their programme.  Students can gain valuable experience from working with a range of people, they have more opportunities to learn and experience a better quality of teaching.  Threading this together is also the valuable experiences and opportunities for the student to develop skills such as teamwork and leadership through collaboration.    

With these new roles in play, taking the paper PAD to the next level and digitising it makes sense.  But how can we ensure the student stays at the centre of it all? How can we use technology to ensure the student not only remains empowered and supported, but learning experiences are improved?  Working with the Pan London Consortium of Universities, as well as numerous Nursing Schools across the UK to develop the electronic Practice Assessment Document, we have found a number of important considerations when transforming Practice Assessment and meeting the new NMC Standards.


Supporting the New Roles...

Whether a Practice Assessment Document is paper or electronic, it should always be the students’ PAD first and foremost. Moving to electronic opens up some new access options and enables Practice Assessors and Academic Assessors to not only provide support in the moment, but also remotely, anytime, anywhere.  This is incredibly valuable, not just everyday but especially so during today’s global pandemic.  For Practice Supervisors and nominated placement support, moving to an electronic PAD also enables them to have a clear and quick overview of how that student is performing in practice and easily provide feedback and support.

However, in creating remote or electronic access to a student’s Practice Assessment Document in typically challenging practice environments, there is some challenges and considerations.  This is especially the case as different AEIs have different approaches and interpret the roles in different ways.


For Practice Assessors:

  • Does the AEI have a Practice Assessor Database? Some do and some don’t, and the ePAD needs to flexible and adaptive to cater for this.
  • Where AEIs don’t have a database, it might not always be possible to know who the Practice Assessor will be for a student until closer to placement, or even on the day. With this in mind, it’s important for Practice Assessors to be able to register on the ePAD in the moment and be linked with their students.
  • Practice Assessors need the ability to easily see how all of their students are progressing and performing in the moment or remotely. A Practice Assessor summary dashboard needs to be clear, colour-coded, easy to read and easy to get to the key information they need to support their students. 
  • One advantage of an electronic PAD is that the Practice Assessor not only has a dashboard view, but can review a student’s PAD to prepare for meetings, improve their feedback and have a remote communication channel with that student. The ePAD is still very much driven and owned by the student, but with considerable additional support in practice.


For Practice Supervisors:

Traditionally, obtaining feedback and being assessed in practice is a student-driven process and when moving to an electronic PAD, it’s important that this remains the same. Most importantly, moving to electronic provides some advantages in enabling the Practice Assessor to provide greater quality feedback, and in a more effective way. 

Some of the ways an ePAD supports this are:

  • An easy to navigate ePAD designed in a way that the Practice Supervisor would be familiar with, helping them or the student get to the right documentation and forms quickly and easily ready for assessment and feedback
  • The ability to use any device for feedback, whether it’s a desktop computer, laptop or mobile device means that the focus is no longer on the technology. The focus instead is on the moment of learning, the relationship and valuable feedback opportunity with the student. Being able to provide feedback on a mobile or tablet device completely offline also means there is also no other disruptions to this moment.
  • Using a mobile or tablet device, Practice Supervisors can take advantage of voice-to-text and audio recording to provide authentic in-the-moment feedback. Feedback is nuanced, relevant and clear for the student to act on, whilst building a positive learning experience and mentorship relationship with their Supervisor.


For Academic Assessors:

The beauty of moving to electronic Practice Assessment is in creating a true foundation and space for the tripartite nature of the new roles and NMC Standards.  As an Academic Assessor, it can be incredibly difficult to support the student and interact with them and their Practice Assessor when this process is paper-based. 

Some of the key considerations an ePAD should have for Academic Assessors are:

  • Have their own clear and easy-to-navigate dashboard presenting the key information they require to view student performance and support their students either remotely, or in person.
  • Have their own space to review their student’s ePAD and sign off completed documentation, either remotely, or in the moment with the student.
  • Academic Assessors are able to remotely communicate with their students through the ePAD whilst ensuring the ePAD remains the students and intact as a Practice Assessment Document.


Finally, all of the above considerations around the new roles and access assumes that assessment in Practice is simple and straightforward, there is ease of access to devices and there are no problems with Wi-Fi access.   Which we know, from experience is not the case at all.  Placement areas are not only hospital settings, but could also be prisons, secure mental health units, remote community practices and more.  These areas often come with their own access challenges in terms of access to devices and Wi-Fi, and this is something we will be covering in our next blog post – so stay tuned!