The present situation regarding the coronavirus has clearly been disrupting for nursing students, especially those in their final year. All students making the transition from being a final year student to a Registered Nurse need support. But right now they will need more support than even. The current set of final year nursing students are in a unique situation and, with any luck, this will probably never be repeated.
The NMC and the RCN have both issued guidance to explain what is happening. The RCN guidance New measures for nursing students will enable more to help during COVID-19 crisis states:
- first-year nursing students will continue with their degree programme, with clinical placements paused for the duration of the emergency. These nursing students may volunteer or undertake paid work in a clinical setting in their spare time, while they maintain their academic study. However, volunteering or paid work will not be counted towards the practice hours and experience required to complete their pre-registration course.
- all other nursing students, including postgraduate diploma and masters students, but excluding third-year students in their final six months of their undergraduate degree will be invited to opt-in to an arrangement where they may spend 80% of their time in clinical practice, which will be remunerated and count towards practice hours. These students will spend 20% of their time in academic study during this emergency period to ensure structured, regular contact with their approved education institution.
The NMC has issued a comprehensive set of guidance and proposals: Information for students and educators. Under emergency standards they state:
- enable student nurses and midwives in the final six months of their programme to complete their training in appropriate placement settings
- give educations institutions and their practice learning partners more flexibility to ensure students get appropriate support and supervision
- enable students to use their knowledge and skills appropriately during this time of crisis to support the care of people
Please seek support when you need it if you are a student; colleagues in education and practice, please be aware of what is happening to students in your clinical areas. Above all, for the duration of these extraordinary measures, support each other.