Title: First frontier
It is well known that starting university is a daunting prospect for anyone and there are a number of books and articles published to help navigate the transition (Herpen, 2019). Unfortunately the stress is particularly high amongst those staring professional courses due to the complexities and competitiveness of getting to the first day (Turner et al 2017). This review identified a number of interventions that reduce such stressors as part of the course and introduction to such. There is evidence in the literature on the effects of peer mentoring among nursing students, and there is much literature to assist students before going on placement, approaching summative assessments and even advice when completing the course before starting in the workplace. However, there is no literature published on how to navigate the complex pre start process. As year one leads it became apparent to us that as young adults transition from school to university they become quite lost in the process. They strive for independence and are encouraged to be so but are overwhelmed with tasks such as applying for police checks or registering at the university now unprotected by the many gatekeepers that smoothed the way in secondary school.
Despite several encouraging and detailed emails sent pre course we observed that engagement with such was low perhaps as young adults were used to others such as parents and teachers dealing with administrative duties previously and that frankly emails are dull. Queens university has established several apps or games for students to educate on topics such as Dementia and Parkinson (Carter, et al 2021) These were evaluated highly by students and engagement was high as they understood the layout more than formal emails (Mitchell et all 2021)
First Frontier is an online web portal for newly enrolled nursing students from Queen's University Belfast. The portal provides an overview of 'onboarding' activities that students must undertake prior to course commencement (e.g., booking occupational health appointments, completing enhanced disclosure paperwork. ordering their uniform and so on). Developed in partnership with students, lecturers, registry staff and a gaming company it is designed to be engaging, easy to follow and give incentives along the way and building excitement rather than dread of the first day. Students have a personal sight which clearly shows their progress and what is outstanding with links along the way for their ease. Staff can view from the other side the cohort in general and an individual progress and send messages accordingly. Notifications appear as directed to individuals or to the cohort as required. At conference I will demonstrate the app and its various functions live and report of the findings of an ongoing study with new applicants regarding their thoughts on its usability and potential adaptability to other courses and institutions. Screen shots below demonstrate such.