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Healthcare Students Go to Work for the NHS

In a first-of-its-kind project, twelve second-year Health and Social Care Level 3 students completed a two-week work placement at Charing Cross and St Mary’s Hospitals during last month, 15-26 November. The hospitals, which are part of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, have already recruited one of the students to the Trust’s staff bank of paid employees.

Health and Social Care students on their Imperial College NHS Trust placement
Health and Social Care students on their Imperial College NHS Trust placement

The students were working alongside healthcare support workers to support healthcare professionals. This freed up staff to get on with more complex tasks, and the students gained practical experience at the same time.

Veronica Sylvan excelled in her work placement and was taken on as a paid employee of the Trust on a flexible contract.

Lead Nurse, Petrina Quirke said: “Veronica’s empathy, professionalism and communication has been excellent, a real natural in the acute healthcare setting. She will be a real credit to the future profession.”

Dinah Ofosu-Asante, Lead Nurse for Healthcare Support Workers, and Sharon Probets, Head of Learning at the hospital, led on designing the innovative project, working with Liam Wild, Curriculum Manager for Health and Social Care at West London College. Dinah says: “The project went very well with the students and we’re working with Liam to make the tweaks necessary for the next intake after Easter. I love working with young people as they are the future of the NHS.”

Throughout their work placements, the students wore face masks whenever on the hospital premises both in and out of doors and uniforms provided by the college. The students tested regularly for COVID-19 and a full and detailed risk assessment was carried out to make sure their work placements were COVID-secure for all involved.

Andrew Lynch, a Nursing Associate, regularly visited the students to make sure they were settling in and had everything they needed to succeed in their roles. Andrew says: “The work placement gave the students a great insight into nursing and helped to confirm for some that they want to go to university and qualify as nurses.”

Liam Wild, Curriculum Manager for Health and Social Care at West London College, said: “I am so proud of our students who were able to help staff in the NHS at a very challenging time due to COVID-19. The work placement is of enormous benefit to the students as they learn professional expectations and routines as well as get a great insight into their chosen profession and the opportunities it offers.”

Zeinab Asmat, who took part in the placement scheme, said: “During my work placement I observed different healthcare professionals such as nurses, healthcare assistants and occupational therapists. I saw what their everyday routine was, how they deal with different patients and how things are in the ward. I was shown how to do patient observation and checked their blood sugar and later got a chance to do it myself as well. I also fed the patients, changed the bed sheet and was there if they needed anything. I liked the ward I was in, as it was clean and had a calm vibe. The healthcare professionals there were nice to me and made me feel welcome. Doing this placement gave me a real insight into how things are run in a hospital on a daily basis. For the future, I want to study psychology in university and would love to pursue a career as a counsellor or a psychologist in the future.”

Hannaniya Dereje added: “In my first week, I learned how to check patients’ temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen, patient position while being checked, consciousness level, whether or not they are alerted, and how to enter this information into the computer system. I learned how to fix the patient bed and interact with the patients. I learned about hospital bins, including where to put gloves and sharp objects after use, as well as, where to store confidential documents in locked bins so no one can access them. In my second week, I learned how to perform an electrocardiogram sample test, which may be used to assess a person’s heart rhythm and electronic activity. I assisted the nurse in placing sensors on the patient’s skin to detect the electrical signals produced by their heart as it beats. I learned how to make a patient’s bed and clean all of the equipment and how to carry out urine tests by using reagent strips. It was a great chance for me as a student to learn skills in a hospital setting, and I’m glad to be a part of this placement. I want to qualify as a nurse.”

Sarah Kamal said: “I worked in St Mary’s Hospital on the Charles Pannett general surgery ward. In particular, it helped me develop critical analytical skills because I had to keep an eye on recovering individuals that came out of surgery and make sure I provided the best care possible. I took part in recording observations, providing personal care etc. I really enjoyed my placement and believe I am truly lucky to have taken part in it. It changed my perspective of nursing in a good way by making me understand the level of difficulty the job carries. However, it is a very rewarding career and I still want to work in the medical field, either in an apprenticeship role or go to university  to become a registered midwife.”

Angela Louiselle Roncesvalles said: “I observed what nurses do to help patients and how the support workers help the ward to make the place survive another day and to help the staff in the night shift. Also, they taught me how to deal with different types of patients and how everyone is similar and different in their attitudes. I connected with them and tried to reassure them and listened to anything they wanted to share, but if some of them didn’t want to talk, I tried not to disturb them. The nurses and healthcare support workers also taught me how to become hands-on and stay alert. Although there are going to be days that can be tiring, you still need to be energetic and alive. They also taught me how to use equipment, like a blood pressure machine and taking blood sugar. It was nerve-wracking, but the staff and patients were very helpful and supportive on my journey, as they called me a ‘student nurse’. There was also the time that I had the opportunity to watch a surgery. The surgeons and the staff in the theatre were teaching me and telling me what to do and not to do, making my work placement worthwhile. I didn’t just learn from the healthcare professionals, I also learned from the patients and from the experience. Every ward is different. Sometimes mine was like a rollercoaster ride, as at times the ward was very busy and at others, it was so silent and peaceful. But it was the norm for everyone working there and it took me a while to adapt to these types of situations. I’ve always wanted to become an adult nurse, and being given this chance made me realise how dedicated and motivated I am to pursue this in the future. I was able to feel and see what I would be facing in my career and everything I will go through.”

Lorraine Salege said: “During my work placement I got a real insight into hospital life. I was working alongside the healthcare assistants and being taught how to clean and change bedding. Serving meals and talking to patients was my favourite part of working at the hospital as it helped me feel more confident working in the hospital. During my first week, I even went to help move a patient to get an x-ray done. I feel that my work placement was a safe environment and the 2 weeks really helped me learn how much the NHS does. At the beginning of the work placement, I wanted to be an occupational therapist as my future career, but I was still unsure. However, after observing what they do and speaking to an occupational therapist and gaining experience at the hospital, I am now certain that I want to be an occupational therapist. 

The twelve second-year Health and Social Care Level 3 students who took part in the work experience were:

  1.   Hattie Butcher
  2.   Precillia Maduda
  3.   Lorraine Salege
  4.   Victoria Serrano
  5.   Zainab Asmat
  6.   Angela Roncesvalles
  7.   Sarah Kamal
  8.   Rachael Abraham
  9.   Sonia Amrutlal
  10.   Hannaniya Dereje
  11.   Veronica Sylvan
  12.   Cleora Carbon-Francis 
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