Nearly 300 University of Northampton health students have now joined up to give more hours on the NHS frontline in battling the pandemic.
222 of them are nursing students who have opted in for Clinical Extended Placements, taking a step aside from academic study to provide more hours ‘on the wards’ supporting healthcare professionals.
This was the first week for some students at their chosen placement provider, time spent completing training so they are fully prepared to support colleagues starting next Monday.
Bethany Green is in the final year of her Adult Nursing degree and explains why she chose an extended placement: “All of our personal situations are different and have affected our choices, but as I don’t have the same ties at home as other students, there was no reason to not do it.
“Put simply, I want to be a nurse and the pandemic means that would have been delayed. This placement option means I qualify sooner and gain extra skills more quickly – for me, opting in was a no brainer really.”
Adult Nursing student Nicola Brown (pictured above, on the right) is also in the final year of her degree. She said: “I chose to opt in because I could see the NHS needed support. We aren’t far away from qualifying and would have been doing it for real in 6 months. However, no one predicted a pandemic!
“I was worried at the prospect of being in the thick of the virus, but with correct infection control we are no more at risk than if, for example, we went shopping. I am looking forward to this placement and the valuable skills I will learn.”
Michaela ‘Mickey’ Gough (pictured above, on the left) added: “My roommate works in health and is out in the community and we both agreed opting in was a brilliant idea. I’ll be working with people I already know very well and they are excited I’ll be with them.”
The health roll call continues as Midwifery and Occupational Therapy students have also asked to be added to the health service’s swelling ranks of support personnel*, bringing the UON total to 272:
- Midwifery: 39
- Nursing (all fields): 222
- Occupational Therapy: 11
Many have accepted placements in Northamptonshire but those based outside of the county have asked to be deployed in locations such as Lincolnshire, London and Somerset.
Dr Jacob Saranga, Dean of the Faculty of Health, Education and Society, praised the hard work of students and staff across the University: “It’s often been said that we are living in challenging, unprecedented or changing times; five weeks in to lockdown, those phrases have not lost any impact.
“Opting in or out was a monumental decision for each one of our students, involving deep consideration of the implications for their individual circumstances.
“Whatever decision they made, I have full admiration for their remarkable response to this ever-evolving situation, our academic teams for their unstinting support as well as our placements team.
“The NHS and all key workers are being recognised each Thursday night, which is a wonderful gesture, but on a personal note and as a healthcare professional myself, I hope people continue expressing their support this way.”
Mark Smith, Chief People Officer at KGH and NGH adds: “This is the greatest global healthcare challenge of our time for the NHS and our people. We are immensely grateful to all who have come forward and recently joined our workforce in response to this.
“We are especially pleased to welcome those students who opted in and have started induction programmes in our Trusts this week in readiness to join our teams. In this, the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, each student will play an important role in response to our COVID efforts.”
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*Figures correct as of 24 April 2020.