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Over 600 final year Nursing and Midwifery students from Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and Open University have joined the fight against Covid-19 by entering the Health and Social Care (HSC) workforce early.

These students, in the last six months of their pre-registration education, have elected to take their final clinical placement now to support the HSC during this crisis. Nursing and Midwifery students will play a vital role in delivering high quality care in hospitals and healthcare settings across Northern Ireland during this difficult time.

The Nursing & Midwifery Council have worked with the Government Departments of the four nations to develop legislation to enable final year students within six months of registration to go into the NHS/HSC in a paid capacity. They will undertake all the duties of a final year student to complete the learning outcomes of their programme whilst providing much needed support to clinical teams on the front line.

Chief Nursing Officer Professor Charlotte McArdle paid tribute to the nursing and midwifery students:

“It is highly commendable that our nursing and midwifery students are embracing the opportunity to help at this time of great need. As senior students I know they have much to offer and will be a valuable asset to our HSC system. I wish to extend a personal thank you to all nursing and midwifery students and assure them of my full support as they rise to this challenge.”

Universities have been working hard over the past few weeks to prepare their students for their early entry into the workforce. This has included an update on clinical skills such as the assessment of the deteriorating patient with emphasis on airway and respiratory management, alongside professional issues in practice for the transition from student to registrant.

Professor Sonja McIlfatrick, Head of School of Nursing at Ulster University commented:

“We are so proud of our final year nursing students for stepping up during this global health crisis to join the fight against Covid-19. Entering the workforce early, they will be using the skills and knowledge they have learned at Ulster to work alongside colleagues and frontline HSC staff to deliver high quality patient care.”

Professor Donna Fitzsimmons, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University, said:

“Queen's is committed to helping in whatever way possible to fight COVID-19 and its spread.  We are incredibly proud of our nursing and midwifery students who have stepped up to assist in this challenge by entering the workforce early to provide much-needed support for the HSC during these difficult few months.”

Donna Gallagher Senior Lecturer in Nursing and Open University Professional Lead, N. Ireland said:

“We are extremely proud of our Open University nursing students and delighted to work in partnership with employers in the collective fight against Covid-19 across the HSC. These nursing students will utilise their skills and knowledge supporting colleagues in providing safe and effective care to those in need during this challenging time.”

Minister Swann also welcomed and praised the contribution of midwifery and nursing students from our universities:

“Over 600 final year midwifery and nursing students from Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and Open University have agreed to join the front line and support the HSC directly to assist with the COVID-19 response. That they are foregoing the final months of their studies so that they can apply their abilities directly to the care of patients is truly remarkable.”