'I just had to step up' - Two student nurses share their experiences of working on covid frontline

Two student nurses who stepped up to work on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic have opened up about how the experience has shaped them.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 7:00 am

Bobbie Branley-Speirs and Claire Beaton were both student nurses at the University of Sunderland before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the North East in March 2020.

But when the Government called on nursing students to help medical staff on the frontline by choosing clinical extended placements, the pair decided to step up.

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Bobbie Branley-Speirs and Claire Beaton were student nurses when they volunteered to work on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bobbie Branley-Speirs and Claire Beaton were student nurses when they volunteered to work on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I wanted to help the nursing staff during the current pandemic, not only was this a time to develop skills and confidence, but also to work as a team,” Bobbie, 28, said.

“I started as a Band 4 Student Nurse in April where I worked alongside staff nurses managing patient care under supervision.

"We were included in the nursing numbers and this meant we had to really step up.”

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Bobbie has been at the Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust for six years, working half of that time as a Health Care Assistant, the other half as a student nurse.

She continued: “The role was definitely challenging.

"It was hot, there was a lot of PPE, but patients were vulnerable so they needed to be looked after so I just had to step up really.

"Some of the patients were here for some time, so you would see them at their vulnerable stages and then [see then] get better, which was very rewarding.

"I was encouraged to work out of my comfort zone during a challenging time but this has helped me in the final stages of the nursing degree.”

Claire, who had been a student nurse at the trust for three years, chose to return to the frontline after completing a placement on Ward 6 at South Tyneside District Hospital.

She said: “I have learnt more in the past few months than I ever would as a typical management student.

"I worked alongside nursing staff, managing my own case load with supervision.

“There was more patient need, but I feel staff are more resilient and we have proven that we can adapt accordingly.”

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