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Implementing a coaching approach to supporting student nurses and midwives’ practice learning in SouthEast Scotland: a participatory action research study

   School of Health and Social Care

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  Prof Alison Machin, Dr R Paterson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Coaching as a way of facilitating learning in practice for nursing students, has been shown to increase placement capacity, enhance students’ learning and improve patient outcomes (Foggo, Shepherd and Wade et al 2020). These are key priorities for improving the experience of our undergraduate nursing and midwifery students at Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) and across the South-East of Scotland in practice learning settings. A coaching approach is based on positive psychology, empowerment and student led learning. It requires those supporting practice learning and assessment in clinical settings, to facilitate this in a different way to traditional ways of teaching in practice. Other areas in the UK have successfully implemented a Coaching approach. We wish to develop and test a coaching model that is sustainable and will bring added value to education and healthcare communities in SE Scotland; potentially country wide.    

ENU is leading on a knowledge exchange collaboration with local University and Health Board partners, to develop and implement a coaching approach to practice learning in SE Scotland. We delivered a high profile online collaborative event on the topic in January, Chaired by Professor Machin (ENU) in collaboration with Dr Janet Corcoran (NHSL). This was attended by academics and practice educators from across the UK, growing our reputation in this field. We have also delivered training for early adopter practice educators, interested in implementing a new approach. 

This PhD will give the successful applicant an opportunity to study full or part time to Doctoral level. You will be supervised by the Dean of School of Health and Social Care, Professor Alison Machin and a collaborative University/NHS project team. You will be supported to develop the research knowledge and skills to deliver this participatory action research project (McIntyre 2008). This project will address the following research question: What are the barriers and enablers to implementing a coaching approach to practice learning and how does involvement in the process influence the education practice of participants”? Real change in student practice learning experiences will be delivered during the project, in selected clinical areas in SE Scotland. The learning from this process will bring new insights to this learning approach more broadly.

If you have experience of working in a healthcare practice and/or education context, and the leadership and partnership working skills required for this high-profile project, then we’re excited to hear from you! Please submit with your application an initial research proposal, based on the information above, outlining background literature, research question, methodology and methods

Academic qualifications

A first degree (at least a 2:1) in nursing or midwifery, or a Batchelor Degree in nursing or midwifery with significant UK healthcare experience and evidence of post qualifying CPD

An MSc qualification in a relevant subject and some qualitative research experience would be an advantage

English language requirement

IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.  

Essential attributes:

·        A commitment to Doctoral study and timely completion

·        A broad understanding of research methods and good IT skills

·        A broad understanding of a participatory action research methodologies

·        Competent in working independently with internal and external partners and to deadlines

·        Knowledge of current issues in UK nursing and midwifery education, including NMC requirements for practice education

·        Good written and oral communication skills

·        Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project

·        Good time management 

Desirable attributes:

·        Excellent academic writing skills

·        Prior experience of project management

·        Knowledge and interest in translational pedagogic research


To apply, please click on the ‘Institution Website’ link on the right-hand side of this page

When applying, please quote the application reference SHSC0041 on your form.


·        Completed application form 

·        CV

·        2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)

·   Brief proposal (2 pages maximum) with the following headings: Background, Research Questions, Method and anticipated Outcomes of the project

·        A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of

·        What you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction.)

·        Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate)

Funding Notes

This is a funded full time studentship. The successful candidate will receive a standard Edinburgh Napier studentship which includes payment of the Home/EU level of full-time fees for three academic years, plus 36 monthly stipend (or equivalent) payments at the prevailing rate set by the Research Councils.
Overseas candidates are welcome to apply, but will be expected to pay the difference between Home/EU and Overseas fees.


Baumfield, V, Hall, E and Wall, K (2013) Action research in education: learning through practitioner enquiry. London: Sage.
Foggo, B, Shepherd E & Wade, J (2020) Can a coaching model of learning in practice impact on the patient experience? Conference presentation, 56th Commonwealth nurses and midwives conference, London UK. Available at: (accessed 16/1/2022)
Crowle, S (2021) The journey of collaborative Learning in Practice (CLiP) at JPUH available at (accessed 16/1/2022)

McIntyre, A (2008) Participatory Acton Research. London: Sage.
Ngamsuoy, A, Machin, A.I and Pearson, P. (2018) Collaborative child home injury prevention in Thailand: an action research study. Nursing and Health Sciences. 20 (2) 206-213.
Nursing and Midwifery Council. Standards framework for nursing and midwifery
education. London: NMC; 2019b
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