The importance of supernumerary status during a pandemic
From the beginning of a course, students' attention is brought to the point that their learning is paramount during any placement (Open University, 2021). Supernumerary status is essential to the placement learning experience for any healthcare student. Similarly, many institutions appreciate the benefits of supernumerary status, even going as far as to offer it to newly qualified practitioners for some time. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) states that:
‘Programme providers must ensure that students are supernumerary during all practice learning. Supernumerary means that the student will not, as part of their programme of preparation, be contracted by any person or body to provide nursing care.’
Allowing the student to accrue placement hours means they gain invaluable experience, and can reach the essential number of hours required to register within the UK.
It goes without saying that the healthcare systems across the UK have been bruised and battered for a year, with many seeing no end in sight. Sickness absence rates remained as high as 12% during 2020 in parts of England (NHS Digital, 2020). During the first peak, students from England and Scotland were given the choice to ‘opt-in’ to a paid placement. In doing so, students forfeited their supernumerary status in return for monthly payments.
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