Working with future health and social care professionals

This year's student champions have already cascaded information to over 500 of their fellow students.

Our Student Champion Scheme is a national programme that aims to increase the uptake and use of evidence-based resources by future doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other health and social care professionals.

The NICE student champion team works with academic teaching and library staff to recruit student champions. These students receive bespoke training and support to enable them to disseminate information about NICE Evidence Search to their fellow undergraduates in structured hands-on learning sessions.

First established in spring 2011 following a successful pilot, the Student Champion Scheme has gone from strength to strength. In 2013-14 the team trained 253 student champions from 22 different schools. We now have a waiting list for schools wishing to take part.

The current focus is on medical and pharmacy students. This year participating schools included these medical schools: Bart’s (QMUL) Birmingham, Cambridge, Keele, Leeds, Leicester, Peninsula, Newcastle, and Nottingham, and the following schools of pharmacy: Keele, Liverpool John Moores, Medway, Portsmouth, Queen’s University, Belfast Reading, Wolverhampton, and Ulster.

In addition, dental students from Bristol and Peninsula were involved. The scheme was also run for a number of nursing and midwifery schools including Anglia Ruskin and the University of West London. At the Faculty of Health in Bournemouth University a wide range of disciplines, including social work, took part.

This year’s student champions have already cascaded information to over 500 of their fellow students. Cascade sessions will continue throughout the academic year and this number will rise.

Students attending sessions run by the student champions have the opportunity to improve their practical searching skills and learn how NICE Evidence Search can help with assignments and support them throughout their training and in their careers.

This year, we commissioned an external evaluation of the scheme to understand its impact and make recommendations for the future programme. The evaluation included feedback from 2,397 respondents who had attended peer-run sessions and 6 focus groups with 42 student champions. The evaluation reported that the current iteration of the scheme has been successful because the champions are so effective in demonstrating the practical relevance of Evidence Search. Also, the student champions are very positive about Evidence Search, which they view as important for their study and future career, and regard their involvement with the Student Champion Scheme as a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.

The report also shows the existing scheme works well in promoting advocacy for NICE Evidence Search, in offering useful development opportunities for student champions, and in enhancing student’s confidence in, preference for, and use of Evidence Search.

As part of the scheme, this year, we organised 2 ‘Learning about NICE’ days for the student champions. These events gave the students a chance to learn more about what NICE does; who works with NICE; how NICE services/products can help them with their course work, continuing education and future practice; and how to keep in touch with NICE and Evidence Search. They also had the opportunity to meet and learn from other champions as well as sharing their own experiences.

The ‘Learning about NICE’ days also gave NICE Deputy Chief Executive Gillian Leng, NICE Chair David Haslam  and other senior staff the opportunity to show their appreciation for the work each student champion does on behalf of NICE to promote the use of NICE Evidence Search among future health and social care professionals.

To find out more about how the NICE Evidence Search Student Champion Scheme might be implemented at your university please email: studentchampions@evidence.nhs.uk