Did education prepare nurses for working in the pandemic?

That is the question being asked by a major new research project, with student nurses from across the UK invited to submit audio diaries of daily life

Student nurses about to embark on their first NHS placements face a daunting prospect at the best of times. So how has life been for those taking their first tentative steps in nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

That is the question being posited by Cov-ed Nurse, a UK-wide study directed by the Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery at Oxford Brookes University, and formally titled ‘Investigating how nurse education prior to and during COVID-19 prepares nurses for their work in the pandemic: an analysis of what works’.

“Student nurses are a vital part of the NHS response to this pandemic,” said principal investigator, Dr Mary Malone, director of the Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“It’s essential we understand more about how effective their educational experiences were in preparing them for this huge challenge. Learning how student nurses can be best supported and prepared for practice must make a difference to how teaching is delivered in the future.”

To that end, the research team is inviting second and third year student nurses from the length and breadth of the UK to take a survey about – and record an audio diary of – their day-to-day working life, before having an in-depth chat with one of the researchers.

Dr Mary Malone

The study will seek to analyse student nurse education both before and during the pandemic, and is being made possible by a research grant just shy of £620,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Seven universities are supporting Oxford Brookes with the project, including King’s College London (KCL).

“The pandemic has accelerated thousands of student nurses entering the workplace,” said Professor Dame Anne Marie Rafferty, professor of nursing policy at KCL.

“We can learn from their experiences and develop their education, to support them make the transition and stay the course once they qualify.”

Student nurses who would like to take part are invited to visit the project website to register their interest.

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