Edinburgh Napier nursing students proud to 'support, not just clap' for NHS workers while on placement

Two nursing students speak to the Evening News about being placed in hospitals during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Conor Matchett
Friday, 24th April 2020, 4:45 pm
Lesley Murray and Euan Hill, students at Edinburgh Napier who have taken up placements alongside NHS workers.
Lesley Murray and Euan Hill, students at Edinburgh Napier who have taken up placements alongside NHS workers.

Nursing placements should be a time to learn on the job, a challenging but productive aspect of learning how to treat those most in need, but for some students, the coronavirus crisis has raised the level.

Nearly 1,000 students in total from Edinburgh Napier University are in the process of being or already are assigned to hospitals and care homes across NHS Lothian and NHS Borders.

The students are all from the university’s School of Health and Social Care and include undergraduate and postgraduate student nurses and student midwives and will work on placement at hospitals in the area for an initial period of six months or until the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is over.

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Lesley Murray

Lesley Murray, a second year mental health nurse student, has been placed in the Hermitage Ward at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

The 47-year-old, from Bonnyrigg, said the experience is frightening for everyone but said she is glad she can directly help out the NHS.

She said: “This is the opportunity of a lifetime, to be needed on the frontline and able to meet that need to support our much-loved NHS.

“It’s a frightening time for all of us, and although I’m paying attention to those fears and anxieties, mainly I’m choosing to focus on the unique learning experience that will come from it.

Euan Hill from Edinburgh Napier University

“Being in mental health, it will be interesting to see how this affects the mental health and resilience of the population during and after the crisis.

“I imagine the impact will be felt for a long time, so to be involved directly in the care of others during the crisis will give me the context for people’s difficulties as they arise in the future.

“I feel fortunate that I’m in a position to do more than just applaud the NHS at this time. I can get involved and support it.”

Third year adult nursing student Euan Hill, was put on placement on the emergency unit at the Borders General Hospital near Melrose.

The 21-year-old from Jedburgh said being asked to help was a privilege.

He said: “I feel privileged to be asked to assist the workforce. Throughout my training, the support offered by my colleagues within the NHS has been amazing, and the prospect of working alongside them at this difficult time is daunting but very satisfying.

“There will be lots of challenges over the next few months, but I know that the guidance offered by the NHS and the University will put me in the best position to give the support my colleagues need.”

The recruitment of student talent to the national effort to support the NHS follows talks between the UK Government, Scottish Government, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, higher education and health officials.

It follows extensive work to balance the necessary regulatory and governance arrangements while also respecting students’ course requirements.

It also follows changes to learning and teaching arrangements which were forced upon the university due to the crisis, with academic teams and professional services staff working hard to find paid placements for students.

Lecturer at the university, Dr David Whiteley, has also put together a continuously updated online support package so both students and staff have all the latest guidance.

Edinburgh Napier staff are also supporting the health authorities and NHS Education for Scotland with the wider background infrastructure by collating details of developments like ward closures and mergers, initially from NHS Lothian and NHS Borders, so students can be allocated to roles where they will offer the most effective support.

Dr Hazel Willis, Interim Dean of Edinburgh Napier’s School of Health & Social Care, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives and is requiring universities, NHS boards and student nurses and midwives to work in exceptional ways to address the requirements of the NHS and the wider population.

“Our students have demonstrated outstanding levels of professionalism during this period of uncertainty, and these remarkable people have the support of all of us as they go out to both aid and assist but also to learn from our frontline doctors, nurses and midwives in these challenging times.”