Innovation Month 2024: Closing remarks

31 May 2024

by Stella McKernan, Policy Officer

The landscape of healthcare higher education is evolving. The health sector is grappling with a rising demand for healthcare services due to an ageing population and increasingly complex and long-term conditions. These significant pressures have contributed to challenges in making healthcare careers attractive to prospective students, contributing to a year-on-year decline in applications for healthcare programmes since the spike seen during the pandemic. Despite this, the healthcare sector continues to innovate at pace with a rapid rise in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital health, and care delivery is expanding outside of hospitals to more community and at-home settings. It is essential that health professional education matches this speed of transformation to ensure that our future healthcare professionals across all four nations are adequately prepared to address these challenges.

This year’s #InnovationMonth was an opportunity for us to promote our members’ work and share best practice in innovative healthcare programme delivery. We kicked off this month with the launch of the Post-Pandemic Progress report, which provides an update on innovative healthcare practice placements put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report revisits the policy proposals from the 2022 Pandemic Powered Improvements report and offers updated recommendations in light of the current challenges and demands of a post-pandemic world.  Earlier this month, we hosted a webinar where we invited Dr. Lisa Taylor and Anita Volkert to present on two notable case studies from the report: the Near Peer and Peer-Enhanced E-Placement models, and how these initiatives have progressed since their implementation. The takeaway message from this webinar was how collaborative working through placement models such as these can enhance the student learning experience and increase placement capacity and quality, even during times of adversity.

The rapid progression of AI is changing the ways universities teach healthcare education and has emerged as a topical issue for educators, practice assessors and students alike. Our members continue to share ways they are using AI to enhance student learning, and this month we saw an example of this in a blog by Dr. Sian Shaw from Anglia Ruskin University, who explored the immersive virtual street ‘Ruskin Row’, that enables students to gain insight into diverse patient backgrounds and experiences through a safe simulated environment, while still meeting NMC standards.

In our final webinar ‘Innovative Curriculum: a renewed focus for healthcare education’  we invited Dr. Kate Knight from the University of Chester to present on Innovative and Creative Models of Practice Learning to Rebalance Health and Social Care Experience across Pre-Registration Programmes. This discussion highlighted the importance of healthcare education delivery keeping pace with the rapidly evolving needs of the health system, to ensure students are adequately prepared to face these challenges in their future careers.

This month has highlighted the ongoing advancements of our members despite the trials facing the sector. While the recruitment picture looks challenging, these innovations can help to attract more prospective students if they can see the modern approaches to pedagogy that unlock careers in 21st century healthcare. Interventions to increase the number of UK-educated nurses, midwives and allied health professionals will be more likely to succeed if more innovative and creative learning models are embedded across the system. The Council looks forward to showcasing more best practice examples of new and imaginative approaches to student learning and continuing this path forward with our members.


Missed an event? Find all the webinars, podcasts and blogs from Innovation Month here.

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