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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


Training student nurses to work with patients who have a stoma - Part Two

Language: EN
Document available also in: FR DE IT PL ES


Melissa Smith standing beside a Peer Tutor Programme poster

How did you learn from your own training experiences and how did this inform your approach to training others?

As mentioned in Part One of this blog post, Melissa first learned about stomas when her grandmother was ill and had to have one. She only knew about her grandmother’s specific condition and specific stoma, helping to care for her and change the bag.

“I’d only really been exposed to Nan’s stoma and didn’t know that there are so many others that are necessary to manage a wide range of conditions. I took part in a stoma training session and learned about lots of different kinds. I made sure to explain the differences when I delivered my own training session and showed the students all the different stomas.”

Melissa found that the training she received enabled her to build on her existing knowledge and introduced her, in particular, to things that can go wrong. This allowed her to teach her peers about issues that can arise and prepare them to face any challenges that might come their way.

Did delivering a training session provide you with any CPD opportunities?

“Yes, definitely – I had to carry out a fair amount of research and deliver a detailed presentation, which meant I was learning new skills and knowledge as well as providing others with them. This has helped me in my current job as a nurse who is working on a colorectal ward that deals heavily with stoma patients.”

The training session also allowed her to identify ways in which she could improve and focus on areas for development, such as communicating with others who do not have as much experience of stoma care.

The session also allowed others to enjoy CPD opportunities. Nurses are required to complete a high level of training each year in order to continue practising in their field. Students received a certificate on completion of the training that can be used to prove they are undertaking required study and enable them to move on to further career opportunities.


Melissa Smith on an NHS political march

How many people took part in the training session and were they all hoping to become specialised in stoma care?

Approximately 10 student nurses attended the training session, but very few were interested in pursuing a career as a dedicated stoma nurse. Melissa believes this is likely due to common misconceptions that continue even after a comprehensive training session.

“It can be really difficult to persuade people that stoma nursing involves more than just working with faeces all day. It is true that human waste is part of the job, but there is so much more that forms a stoma nurse’s working day. You are emotional support, a teacher and a nurse in a specialised field that desperately needs more nurses.”

It is disappointing to learn that very few will embark on a career path that focuses on stoma care. On Melissa’s colorectal ward, there are just three nurses and only a single health care assistant. These people also manage other hospital wards, so are not stationed in a single hospital. The NHS certainly needs more stoma nurses.

“When I told the nurses I was training with that I wanted to become a stoma nurse, they were shocked. Of course they were very pleased to hear that, but genuinely very shocked, as so few want that kind of career in nursing. I wish more students would recognise the benefits in being a stoma nurse and I hope my training session will encourage them to think twice.”

What kind of person best suits the job of a stoma nurse?

“It’s absolutely essential that a stoma nurse is kind, compassionate and very friendly. You will be dealing with patients that are facing a very frightening time in their lives and are particularly vulnerable. Many can’t handle the idea of having a stoma and take a long time to come round to it, so you have to be patient.”

What can other nursing trainers learn from your experience?

“The most important thing is not to forget that interactive element. Just telling people things in a job that is so practical will not really help them – they have to physically know how to do it, or they are bound to fail. In nursing, you don’t theoretically do a dressing – you do an actual dressing – so getting to simulate things really helps you grasp a skill.”


Find Part One of the blog here.


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