Nurses studying at the University of Edinburgh are returning to clinical placements to support the NHS response to Covid-19.
27 final-year students and 40 second and third year students will soon begin placements to support NHS and care home colleagues as they tackle the virus.
They have responded to a Scottish Government call for student nurse volunteers and will take paid placements in a range of clinical areas.
The student nurses – all currently studying on the Bachelor of Nursing (BN) with Honours programme – will be working alongside registered nurses in hospitals, community nursing and in care homes across Edinburgh and the Lothians.
A further group of nursing students are also hoping to support the effort in other parts of Scotland and the UK.
Fourth year nursing student, Matthieu Steffen, said: “We feel a great sense of pride in joining the workforce, albeit a little earlier than anticipated, to help out in what is now humanity’s biggest public health crisis in a century.”
The Nursing and Midwifery Council have put in place a range of emergency standards allow students to extend their clinical placements.
Those currently studying on nursing programmes are being offered more flexible course options to help alleviate pressures that health and care services are experiencing due to the outbreak.
Final-year students who wish to be involved on the NHS frontline will now complete their programme in clinical practice as part of the paid placement scheme.
Matthieu added: “This will be an opportunity for us to take on board all the skills we have learned and practiced over (nearly) four years, and we look forward to the challenge that this will impose on us, and all the learning opportunities that undoubtedly lie ahead of us as we enter the workforce as pre-registered nurses.”
Students in their second and third year can also choose to spend up to 80 per cent of this academic year in clinical placements, rather than the usual 50-50 split between placements and theoretical learning.
All students on placement will continue to be supported by staff from School of Health in Social Science and their on-site NHS or care home practice partners.
Professor Aisha Holloway, Head of Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh, said: “As a team and a University, we are immensely proud of our undergraduate nursing students, who in the face of Covid-19, one of the greatest global healthcare challenges of our time, are responding with compassion, professionalism and leadership. Each one will play their own role in providing care for those across our society, at a time of most need.”
Dr Sarah Rhynas, Undergraduate Programme Director of Nursing Studies, said: “Our student nurses have a huge variety of skills that they can use to help our NHS colleagues tackle this pandemic. We will continue to be on hand to support them during this period, and afterwards once they return to the University.”
Elsewhere at the University, final-year medical students have graduated early to join the NHS frontline.
Some 200 newly qualified graduates will have the opportunity to join the NHS workforce sooner than they would have anticipated, as part of the UK’s response to the virus.