The death of hundreds of NHS patients in two English hospitals in Mid Staffordshire in the 2000s led to the Francis report of 2013 which found that poor care was endemic in the region. The report made 290 recommendations covering everything from culture change to improved audit. This has driven much of the thinking around how standards in healthcare in the UK should improve.

The report put much emphasis on how student nurses should be recruited in future, recommending that nurse education programmes should recruit people who “demonstrate possession of the values, attitudes and behaviours appropriate for the profession”. As a result, English programmes now recruit student nurses based on their values using a toolkit developed by Health Education England.

Yet there is little evidence underpinning the approach or its impact. Scotland has also spent a lot of time and money in recent years looking at this issue, but no uniform approach has emerged yet north of the border.

In short, we are still not very sure about what “raw ingredients” nursing schools should be looking for in applicants to identify the ones that will develop into the best nurses. To help provide an answer, we have beenstudying how the performance of student nurses is affected by their level of emotional intelligence – in other words their ability to understand and express their emotions and their awareness of the emotions of patients and colleagues. We also looked at the effect of past care experience, since this was another quality seen as important in the Francis recommendations.

We studied nearly 900 nursing students in two large nursing programmes in Scottish universities – Edinburgh Napier and the University of the West of Scotland. We measured their emotional intelligence at the beginning of their first year in nursing training in 2013 and took note of their experience working in care. Then at the beginning of the students’ second year and again in the final semester of their third year, we measured their performance and re-measured their emotional intelligence. We have just published the results from the first half of the study, namely how these variables affected the students’ performance during their first year… Read More>>

Source: The Conversation UK