Peer support for undergraduate children’s nursing students

Fiona Cust, Keeley Guest


Background and objective: The provision of appropriate ‘pastoral’ support for nursing students is acknowledged to be problematic for a variety of reasons, (time constraints, staffing levels, unmanageable workloads). The need to initiate and access more suitable support is imperative – particularly in the light of the increasing number of students suffering with mental health issues. This study examines the dynamics of a student peer support programme over a two-year period. Twenty-one first year students (child field) gave fully informed consent to being involved in a peer support study. Nineteen second year students (again, child field) consented to being peer supporters for the junior students.

Methods: The team, consisting of two academics and two clinicians, explored the relatively simple option of second year nursing students ‘peer supporting’ first year students in various aspects of their training over a two-year period – from social support, academic support, pastoral support and clinical support. An evaluation of the initiative was through a questionnaire at four separate intervals over the two-year period.

Results: The results were hugely positive, and encouraging. Both cohorts of student found the intervention accessible, supportive, and sustainable. Peer support may be a relatively straightforward, and simple concept to assist junior nursing students in their often very complex, and overwhelming, transition.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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