Students join the frontline in the fight against coronavirus

Paramedic and students nurses working in simulation ward.

They have taken on roles at Queen Alexandra Hospital and local ambulance stations

  • 11 May 2020
  • 4 min read

Nursing and paramedic students from the University of Portsmouth are joining healthcare workers on the NHS frontline in the battle against coronavirus.

They have taken on roles at Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital in Portsmouth and local ambulance stations outside their studies and placements.

So far, 64 BN (Hons) Adult Nursing students in their third year are working in the NHS in employed roles, which will count towards their final qualification. A further 100 second-year BN (Hons) Adult Nursing students are set to be placed in hospitals next week.

Dr Jason Oakley, Head of the School of Health and Care Professions, said: “The response of our students and staff to support the NHS during the pandemic has been incredible. They are a credit to themselves, their professions and the university.”

The staff have been amazing to us. They told us regardless of the fact we’re being paid we are still students and they have still been giving us lots of support. I think nurses were very undervalued before, and it seems like that is now changing.

Charles Tick, Third-year BN (Hons) Adult Nursing student

Students responding to the call

Diana Rasoul

Third-year BN (Hons) Adult Nursing student Diana Rasoul is working full-time on the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) after her placement on an orthopaedic ward was stopped.

Diana said: “I found the first two weeks really overwhelming. ICU is such a specialist area and so much of it is different from every placement I’ve done during my nurse training, but even more so with COVID-19.

“Three weeks in, I have totally found my feet, I know exactly what’s expected of me and I have been reassured that ICU nursing is exactly where I want to continue working once I have qualified.

“I have been on a wide range of placements, which may not have been what I would consider as future departments that I’d work in but I’ve thoroughly enjoy them all and collectively have shaped me into the student nurse I am today.”

It’s great to feel like you are part of the solution, I’d much rather be doing something to help than sitting at home doing nothing.

James Corney , Second-year BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science student

Charles Tick

Third-year BN (Hons) Adult Nursing student Charles Tick is working full time in the haematology and oncology ward at QA.

He said: “It was scary at first. We still have potential COVID-19 patients but they are kept separate to others.

“The staff have been amazing to us. They told us regardless of the fact we’re being paid we are still students and they have still been giving us lots of support. I think nurses were very undervalued before, and it seems like that is now changing.

“I have accepted a job here for when I finish which is great. My aim is to be a palliative care nurse.

“I haven’t seen my family in four months. I am looking forward to when I can see them again. But overall I think being a small part of the whole picture is amazing.”

James Hey

First-year BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science student James Hey has been working in a patient transport service role.

“We transport patients to hospital for appointments, for example renal patients going for dialysis – they’re still essential appointments that can’t just be stopped for the pandemic,’ he said.

“When I first started my paramedic course I was completely new to it. I didn’t really know how to talk to patients. Now I am getting that experience. About half the people on my course are working for patient transport and others have already trained to be emergency care assistants.

“We also take patients home from hospital. When you get a patient who has been told they’re well enough to go back home that’s great.

“This experience has definitely confirmed that I want to be a paramedic.”

I wanted to do this so I could continue my studies but also so I could do something to contribute no matter how small it feels it is at times. The staff are always telling us what we’re doing is amazing and saying thank you a lot.

Emma Collar, Third-year BN (Hons) Adult Nursing student

James Corney

Second-year BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science student James Corney has undertaken emergency care assistant training and is also working as a call handler for 111. He said: “I was really keen to help and to get more front-line experience. I thought if I didn’t do this I will lose some of what I’ve learnt.

“It’s great to feel like you are part of the solution, I’d much rather be doing something to help than sitting at home doing nothing."

Speaking about his 111 work, he added: “At the call centre we have been busier since the pandemic. We’ve been taking all the coronavirus response calls. It’s involved a slightly different script, a slightly different way of working. A good half of my workload at the moment is coronavirus-related.”

Emma Collar

Third-year BN (Hons) Adult Nursing student Emma Collar is working directly with coronavirus patients in a full-time role on ICU. She said: “Everyone there is so facilitating and they coach you and don’t make you do anything you’re uncomfortable with. They’re still treating us like students, which is nice - they’re nurturing.

“It’s rewarding even though it’s horrible at the moment it can be really distressing at times. You’re learning so much.

“I wanted to do this so I could continue my studies but also so I could do something to contribute no matter how small it feels it is at times. The staff are always telling us what we’re doing is amazing and saying thank you a lot.”

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