Student nurse reveals what it is like to join Covid-19 frontline

Twenty-eight student nurses have joined the Covid-19 frontline to boost the workforce in Sunderland and South Tyneside’s hospitals as staff continue to fight the virus.

The third year student nurses from Northumbria University and the University of Sunderland, will be supporting South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s nursing teams for 12 weeks.

The nurses will be caring for adults and young patients at South Tyneside District Hospital, Sunderland Royal Hospital and the Trust’s community services.

Jenna Bradwell, from South Shields, is one of the new student nurses who has already gained full-time employment at the trust once she qualifies.

Student Nurse Jenna Bradwell with Dr Guy Tucker, Head of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Education.

Jenna said: “I’ve been very lucky with my placements, the trust has provided me with the most enjoyable learning opportunities and the team I am currently working alongside has been so supportive.

“Working during the pandemic has brought many challenges and changes to the way we work.

"I feel that the biggest change has been adapting to communicating with patients when wearing PPE.

"Some of our patients can struggle to hear what we are saying and wearing a mask can make verbal communication somewhat more difficult as our mouths are fully covered.

Student Nurse Jenna Bradwell with Dr Guy Tucker, Head of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Education.

"Good communication is such an important part of the care we provide and I’ve found myself being as expressive as possible behind the mask to aid that.

“More positively, I have never experienced more unity than that of the teams I have been part of since this began – it really has brought us closer together.

“I’m so pleased to have secured a staff nurse position within the trust and I hope that I can remain on the Surgical Centre Inpatient ward, where I can start what I hope is a long and rewarding career.”

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The Government and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have recognised that the country is facing an unprecedented situation and therefore the NMC have re-introduced a set of emergency standards that enables final year students to undertake up to 100% of their clinical time in practice.

The final year students that have chosen to undertake extended clinical placements will still be treated as students working 80% of their week in clinical practice.

Melanie Johnson, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, said: “We are delighted to welcome our new recruits to South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and are extremely grateful for their support.

“They will certainly be a welcome boost to our nursing team and will be vital in helping provide safe and high quality care to our patients as well as supporting our staff during these challenging times.

“The deployment of our student nurses has involved an incredible amount of work from the team and I’d like to thank everyone for their hard work and continued support.”

Dr Guy Tucker, Head of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Education at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “All students across Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions have worked extremely hard during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our students have risen to this challenge and have been a vital support to our nursing teams during this challenging time and as we start on the road to recovery.”

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