Written by Guest blogger
This is a guest blog by Daniel Fry, a recent graduate of BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing.
2020 was a challenging year for the entire globe but especially tricky for us as third year nursing students completing academic studies, including placements, and entering clinical practice as registered nurses. The effect of a national lockdown meant no more traditional lectures and the introduction of video call lectures, which were a learning curve for all involved! While video lectures are functional and do work well, it is no substitute for the face-to-face teaching I was used to, where it is easier to have discussions with peers and lecturers to increase understanding and knowledge. The third year of BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing relies heavily on group work and presentation assessment so outstanding units had to be adapted to essay format, which was a challenge for lecturers and students. While none of this is ideal, we are taught about resilience throughout our learning and this was the time to apply it so I accepted that this is what we must do to gain our qualification and did the best I could, as did my peers.
My consolidation placement was in Trauma and Orthopaedics and I was lucky enough to get a permanent role as a staff nurse on that same ward which aided my transition from student to registered nurse because I knew the team and had learnt the basics of the speciality. Working as a registered nurse during the second wave of the pandemic was more challenging than the first wave. With so many more Covid positive cases and increased mortality rates, it did become overwhelming at times as a newly qualified member of the team. I found that the support of the ward team and practice educators was crucial for me as a coping mechanism to process events and reflect on the outcomes. One thing that I have missed is the traditional transition from nursing student to registered nurse, which would have involved celebrations with loved ones, a break before starting a new role and a graduation ceremony. While we have had a virtual celebration, which was good, it is no substitute for a traditional graduation where we can celebrate each other’s achievements and thank the academic staff in person for all their valued support.
I have had the honour of being awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s (VC) Undergraduate prize for 2020. When I received the telephone call from my academic advisor to say that I had been nominated and selected as recipient, you could have knocked me over with a feather! During my time at Bournemouth University, I have immersed myself in the student experience and have tried to empower the student voice and promote change. To walk away with a first-class honours degree in Adult Nursing and the VC undergraduate prize is more than I thought I could achieve when I first started in 2017 and whole-heartedly thank peers and academic advisors for a truly memorable experience and a solid foundation to launch my professional career.
Becoming a registered nurse during the pandemic has been a challenge that no other cohort of nursing students has had to experience before, and I am proud to have succeeded in obtaining my degree and also having taken part in strengthening the NHS at a difficult time along with my peers and all other health care professionals.