Practice learning in the nursing and midwifery professions: a review

What opportunities are there to improve practice learning in the training of nurses, midwives and nursing associates?


Published: 17/05/2024

Project status: Ongoing

Background and aims

Practice learning is a requirement for students wishing to become nurses, nursing associates and midwives in the United Kingdom. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) – who are the independent regulator for these professions – has commissioned the Nuffield Trust, in collaboration with the Florence Nightingale Foundation, to undertake some research on practice learning. The research is intended to support the NMC’s aim to recognise and acknowledge innovation, and ensure that their requirements continue to equip students with the knowledge and skills to deliver the best possible care for people across a diverse range of care settings.

Why it’s important

Promoting high education and professional standards across the UK is a core role of the NMC. Practice learning is an essential part of the training of nurses, nursing associates and midwives, and these clinical placements impact on the development of professional behaviours and the ability to deliver safe, kind and effective care when they qualify.

What we’ll do

Our research will include a mix of methods including:

  • Reviewing previous research both from the UK and elsewhere where relevant.
  • Obtaining data on the number and nature of clinical placements.
  • Conducting interviews with key experts in the field including academics, professional leaders, education institutions, employers and commissioners of placements.
  • Convening a series of focus groups to explore the views of qualified staff and students.
  • Convening public and patient engagement events.
  • Facilitating policy workshops for each of the four nations of the UK.

How you can get involved

If you are a qualified midwife, nurse or nursing associate currently practising in the UK and would like to take part in one of our focus groups, we’d like to hear from you. Complete our online form to register your interest:

Register your interest

If you are currently a midwifery or nursing student, currently training in the UK and would like to take part in one of our focus groups, please complete our online form to register your interest. 

Register your interest

Places in each focus group are limited so we may not be able to include everyone who applies. If we have more people interested in taking part than places available then we will select people to ensure a representative cross-section of the workforce by field of practice and nation of the UK. Please see the Participant Information Sheet for further information about what’s involved.

Project outputs

The project has been commissioned and funded by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The main output from the work will be an independent report produced by the Nuffield Trust and our research partners, the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

The project started in March 2024 and we aim to have completed the report by Autumn 2024.

Further information

Please contact for further information about the project.

The team

The team includes Nina Hemmings, Billy Palmer, Malina-Ioana Bodea, Sophie Julian, Sarah Reed and Simon Barnes from Nuffield Trust, together with Lisa Plotkin and Raluca Oaten from Florence Nightingale Foundation.