The psychological effects of working in the NHS during a pandemic on final-year students: part 1
Resilience in nursing and midwifery involves being able to manage ethically adverse situations without suffering moral distress and is key to mental wellbeing, staff retention and patient safety. The aim of this research was to ask what the psychological effects were for nursing and midwifery students who had been deployed to work in the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study looked at the incidence of burnout in a small cohort of nursing and midwifery students who were employed as band 4 aspirant nurses and midwives in acute NHS trusts in the south of England. The findings suggested that student midwives reported higher levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation than student nurses but overall, both cohorts of students reported moderate levels of burnout. Part 2 will present the lived experience of deployment as described by students.
In response to the need to increase staffing and to boost resilience in the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and Approved Educational Institutions (AEIs) were tasked by Health Education England (HEE) with modifying their courses for final year students in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions (NMC, 2020). The students were given a choice of continuing with their studies and delaying their clinical practice until August 2020 or to be deployed and work in the NHS. The third-year student nurses and midwives who chose to be deployed were then accelerated into clinical placements that offered a band 4 salary and temporary registration, thereby boosting staffing throughout the NHS (HEE, 2020). These students were then placed in NHS trusts near their home and this was managed by HEE supporting the AEIs and the local NHS trusts (HEE, 2020). The expectation was that students would complete their academic work as well as working 30 hours a week as paid employees in the NHS. Deploying students into the workforce was the NMC’s response to the Coronavirus Bill published on 17 March 2020 (Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), 2020), later passing into law as the Coronavirus Act 2020.
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