Posted Wednesday 1 March 2017
Public and private healthcare providers flocked to Kingston University's annual nursing careers fair to woo the impressive final-year nursing students on to their wards, emphasising the department's status as one of the leading nursing schools in the country.
Held on the University's Kingston Hill campus, where the nursing courses are delivered, the recruitment drive saw nearly 300 final-year and postgraduate students from across the fields of adult, child, mental health and learning disability nursing attend.
The event was organised by Martyn Keen, the final-year pre-registration nursing lead, in conjunction with Ray Harte from the University's careers service, KU Talent. "This has been our biggest nursing careers fair to date," Mr Keen said. "Many of the employers attending have previously recruited Kingston University students, and quite significantly many are currently working with our students in practice as part of their training. That's given them insight into the calibre and quality of the students we educate here."
Nursing courses at Kingston University – ranked top in London for nursing and midwifery for the fourth year in a row in the 2017 Guardian University Guide – ensure students gain vital work-based skills to prepare them for their careers. Throughout their degrees, aspiring nurses undertake practice placements in NHS trusts, community and independent organisations. Combined with high-quality teaching and impressive facilities, this invaluable hands-on experience is "the perfect recipe for employability", according to Mr Keen.
Myriame Lawley of the Spire Healthcare organisation has attended the nursing careers fair every year. "We come to Kingston University each year because of the exceptionally high standards we see from students who have been with us on placement, as well as ex-students who work for us now," she explained. "Everyone needs good staff and this is a great breeding ground for quality nurses."
For Deborah Hunt, a former Kingston University student and ward manager in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at Springfield Hospital in Tooting, south-west London, the opportunity to secure the services of placement students on a full-time basis is a key incentive. "I've seen them on their practice placements and I know what a fantastic job they can do so I'm here today to make sure I get them back," she explained.
The positive impact Kingston University students have while they are on placement benefits more than just employers. Jamie Patel, a paediatrics educator at Kingston Hospital who exhibited at the event, suggested students' placement experiences really helped them when it came to looking for jobs. "It makes sense for us to come to Kingston University because the students here know our wards, routines and procedures," she said. "I'm sure it helps students feel less anxious too, because they already know the drill."
This certainly seems to be the case for Joan Henshaw, a final-year mental health nursing student, who said her workplace experience had helped her to feel less stressed about finding a job. "Placements are fantastic. I'm a hands-on person, so I learnt so much from being in that practical environment," she enthused. "I've been based at the Springfield Hospital, so I know the wards and systems, and ideally I would like to work there again after I graduate."
With around 97 per cent of Kingston University's nursing students employed within six months of graduating, the department's strong links with a wide range of healthcare organisations underpins its success, something senior lecturer Martyn Keen and his colleagues are keen to cultivate.
"We are very proud of the positive reputation our students have. None of this happens overnight and we've been working hard at building our relationships with numerous organisations," he explained. "We've had a massive turnout at the nursing careers fair, with so many different exhibitors wanting to attend. This confirms the very strong standing within the industry that nursing at Kingston University has been generating during the past decade."