Covid-19: ‘It was technically a choice, but it didn’t feel like one’ says student nurse


New recruit drafted in to work on the NHS frontline is ‘apprehensive’

A 22-year-old nursing student from Birmingham has been fast-tracked to work in a hospital near her home, just sixth months before she is due to graduate.

Vickie Marie has been studying a degree in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Birmingham. She told Birmingham Eastside that her placement has been changed and she will no longer have “supernumerary” status on placement. “I’ll have a different set of expectations, especially as I’m a mental health rather than a general nurse.”

Credit: Vickie Marie

When on supernumerary status, student nurses are given a mentor and supervised throughout their placement. Vickie will now be without this.

“If you couldn’t opt-in, then you had to defer your course/qualifying for the foreseeable – with no predicted time frame for this.”

“I’m feeling apprehensive about working on the frontline during Covid-19, more so because I’m unsure of what’s expected of me and how much I can help. I’m worried for my own health and scared to bring something home to my family.”

The decision to use student nurses was taken by the UK government as part of a strategy which also targeted retired healthcare staff.

The Nursing & Midwifery Council said: “Under our emergency powers, we’re able to establish a specific nursing student part to the Covid-19 temporary register for nursing students in the final six months of their programme.”

The council has outlined the different options for nursing students depending on what stage they’re at in their education.

Like thousands of other student nurses across the UK, Vickie was given a choice to be on the frontline. But she says it didn’t feel that way: “If you couldn’t opt-in, then you had to defer your course/qualifying for the foreseeable – with no predicted time frame for this.”

She has returned to work in her hometown of Lincoln, and will be reporting for duty at the end of this month.

Birmingham City University has also reopened its Seacole Building to prepare and train medical students for frontline NHS roles in the combat against coronavirus.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) is still looking for experienced student nurses, medical students and paramedic students to support the current workforce across Birmingham hospitals.

According to Nursing Notes at 9am GMT today, at least 140 health and social care workers are now believe to have died from Covid-19.

The government recently announced a life assurance scheme to ensure that families of health workers who have died from coronavirus will receive £60,000.


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