Exclusive: New project seeks to harness student nurse innovation

The initiative will see third year student nurses from the University of East Anglia (UEA) present their service improvement proposals developed as part of their studies to leaders from partner trusts.

“We want to generate a culture where service improvement ideas can come from all levels”

Mark Morson 

If they like what they hear, the trusts bosses could opt to implement the students’ suggestions into their own strategies.

The project has been spearheaded by clinical educator and bank surgical nurse, Mark Morson, and critical care staff nurse, Daniel Heggie, both from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which works in close partnership with the UEA and its healthcare students. 

They felt an opportunity was being missed to utilise the work students were carrying out as part of a third-year module, in which they had to come up with evidence-based service improvement plans.

To help address this gap, the pair have organised an event to take place at the Edith Cavell Building at UEA in Norwich on 12 July in which 50 nursing students will exhibit their proposals in poster form.

Staff from the university’s partner trusts including Norfolk and Norwich have been invited and will be able to browse the proposals and speak with the students.

“It gives students a chance to use their research rather than just put it into a drawer”

Daniel Heggie 

Mr Morson told Nursing Times the idea had been born from their work helping to induct newly qualified nurses into the trust.

“From discussion with these people, myself and Daniel felt some of their ideas were really awesome and more can be done to actually support these into implementing them into our services,” he said.

Mr Morson said he and Mr Heggie were “passionate” about giving student nurses a platform to contribute to service innovation. 

daniel heggie and mark morson

daniel heggie and mark morson

From left, Daniel Heggie and Mark Morson

“We want to generate a culture where service improvement ideas can come from all levels,” he said.

Speaking about the event, Mr Heggie said: “It gives [students] a chance to use [their] research rather than just put it into a drawer and it kind of gets forgotten about, where actually it could be used to make changes within an acute trust. It’s quite exciting really.”

In addition, Mr Heggie said he hoped the initiative would encourage student nurses to continue to put forward their ideas once they have qualified, knowing that their voice would be heard and valued.

“We want to encourage this behaviour not just while they are students but actually beyond that as well,” he told Nursing Times.

“Having all of our nursing staff whatever discipline it may be contributing to service improvement is only a good thing,” he added.

“It demonstrates brilliantly that no one has the monopoly on new ideas”

Nancy Fontaine

The event is being supported by Norfolk and Norwich chief nurse Professor Nancy Fontaine.

“I’m very excited about seeing all the fresh ideas and am thrilled that we’re highlighting the great work of these young nurses,” she said.

“It demonstrates brilliantly that no one has the monopoly on new ideas and illustrates the importance of building a culture of innovation that begins right from when nurses enter our profession, encouraging them to come forward with their suggestions and help make a difference,” added Professor Fontaine.

This will event will act as a pilot with hopes it could become a national project with hospitals and universities around the country coming together to harness up-to-date research from nursing students to improve services.