The final-year students on the frontline

The students helping fight Covid-19

Covid-19 has changed the way we live, work and study. It’s unusual for our students to join the workforce six months before they graduate — but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, over 600 final year nursing and allied health students are joining the NHS immediately. They’ll provide essential support across the service, playing key roles in a crisis that was unimaginable even six months ago.

Their paid voluntary posts will support key staff on the frontline as the NHS copes with ever-increasing demand. Almost 400 student nurses have volunteered, along with others from healthcare disciplines including midwifery, paramedic practice and operating department practice

Professor Sally Shearer is Executive Director of Nursing and Quality at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. Speaking to the BBC, she said: “It’s really important that we get the students into the hospital because we are increasing our intensive care capacity, and we also need to make sure our wards are well staffed.”

Toni Schwartz, Dean for the College of Health and Wellbeing at Sheffield Hallam, notes how unusual the situation is: “I’ve been a nurse for 35 years and this is an experience I’ve never had. To have this right at the start of your career is an immense thing to have happened.”

“We are likely to see an increased number of children and young people accessing our services over the forthcoming weeks, and have been working hard to reconfigure our teams to meet this demand. Our extended placement students are an incredibly valuable part of this response". 

Professor Sally Shearer

As one of the leading providers of health and social care training in the UK, we’re making sure our students have everything they need before they start.

Specialised training is being delivered by academics from Sheffield Hallam’s College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences. The sessions will provide the latest Covid-19 guidance, oxygen therapy training, and advice on mental wellbeing and personal protection equipment.

It’s a demanding time to start a healthcare career — but years of putting learning into practice pays off. 

“Most of these students, we already know — they’ve been doing training with us. Fifty percent of our nurses’ training is spent in practice placement, so it’s great to have them back,” explained Professor Shearer.

It’s this real-world learning that has prepared our students for the task ahead. Through placement experience, award-winning teaching and workplace-centred study, they have the confidence, skills and commitment they need to join the fight against Covid-19.

 “I am immensely proud of our final year healthcare students stepping up to join the NHS during this extraordinary crisis. Their confidence to volunteer is a testament to the excellent teaching they have received from colleagues in the College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences. The support they will be able to provide to key workers on the frontline will be invaluable.

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor

Find out the latest information and read more about our response to Covid-19 on our coronavirus impact pages.

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