UWS first year nursing students undertake placements with less than two days in-person training

By Meg Montague

Nursing students in their first year of the BSc and MSc (pre-reg) courses at UWS are undertaking placements with less than two days in-person training. And a clinical skills training day for the undergraduate students has been cancelled.

“If you’re a student [in a ward] that’s come straight from high school, has never worked in any form of care before…you’re just going to be thrown in the deep end,” said Ellie Kirkpatrick, a first year on the undergraduate course.

Unlike some of her peers, Ellie had previously studied nursing at college. And she has been signed up with NHS Lanarkshire’s staff bank since the beginning of the pandemic, where she said she has been working in “Covid ward after Covid ward”. She also said that while working she “had to hold someone’s hand while they passed”. But Ellie is also a student representative for her course, and has heard the concerns from her classmates first-hand.

She added: “They’ve got no form of knowing how to do anything, especially since the skills day’s been cancelled. So, [they’ll] go in knowing absolutely nothing.”

Nursing students in Scotland currently need 2300 hours of clinical placements to be able to register as a nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. According to one nursing student, once placements are allocated they are not allowed to be changed and in-experienced students could be facing their first placement on a designated Covid ‘red’ ward.

“There is no getting away from Covid,” he added. “There is no guarantee any ward will be Covid free.”

Students in their first year of the MSc nursing course have already undertaken a 4-week placement. And have another 9-week placement coming up. Mhari Booth is a student on the course and has over 15 years’ experience in a care setting, but said that wasn’t the case for everyone.

“I do know a few of the girls are actually struggling because they don’t come from health and social care, some of them have done biology degrees,” said Mhari. “I think it depends on their placement as well. Some have had really, really good experiences, some have had fair to not so good, and some just shouldn’t have been there in the first place. But it was what they were given.

“I’ve advised everybody: make sure you tell them we have no clinical skills, we have not had any classes.”

The Royal College of Nursing is the world’s largest nursing union.

Eileen McKenna, the Associate Director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland said: “We continue to raise the views and concerns of our student members with the Scottish Government. Our priority for student members must be to protect their ability to continue their education, which includes both academic learning and clinical placements, so they can complete their education.”

UWS and the Nursing and Midwifery Council were contacted for comment but did not respond.

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