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International Nurses Day 2020: Student nurses share life on the frontline diaries

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Two student nurses have documented their experiences of life on the frontline at Glasgow's Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

It has been just over one month since Stephanie Clark and Rebecca Mason, third year adult nursing students from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) joined the fight against COVID-19. 

Both nurses currently work alongside teams at the RAH to help care for COVID-19 patients and filmed their experience over the course of two weeks. You can view the videos here: 

Rebecca, who was on placement in the orthopaedics department at the beginning of the out break, said:

“The way the staff at the RAH initially responded to the outbreak really inspired me to want to opt in and help in any way I could,” said Rebecca, who was on placement in the orthopaedics department at the beginning of the outbreak.

“I was in Spain on placement when I heard about coronavirus,” Stephanie added. “But I knew the first thing I wanted to do upon travelling back was opt in to help.”

Stephanie and Rebecca are two of the 1,200 nursing, midwifery and biomedical science students from University of the West of Scotland supporting teams at hospitals and care settings across Scotland during the pandemic.

Both pre-registration student nurses in their final year of study, Stephanie and Rebecca have been based in elderly medicine and COVID-19 wards at the hospital since opting in.

“I’m helping by taking observations, supporting patients who can’t have any visitors just now, and helping clinical practitioners, whilst also learning as much as I possibly can,” Stephanie explained.

Rebecca added: “It can be tough at times, of course. One of my patients deteriorated really quickly and my role was to ensure I was providing comfort to the patient, who didn’t have any relatives with them. It can be hard when you’re wearing full PPE – the patients can only see your eyes, but it is so important to show empathy and compassion.”

“The patients are ill and vulnerable, but providing the best support I can to my team and my patients is my number one priority,” Stephanie said.

 “The staff have been so supportive and I really feel like I’m starting to find my feet and my role within the team,” Rebecca said. “While it is challenging at times, I feel privileged to be involved and grateful for this opportunity.”

“It’s really important to me to follow the correct infection control policies that have been put in place for all staff at the hospital. While I am a third year student and I do work in the hospital, I’m also a mum and I need to make sure I’m doing what I can to protect my husband and two kids.”

Stephanie added: “We are hugely grateful to the public too, who are staying at home to keep safe and protect the NHS.”

Paul Hendry, NHSGGC’s Lead Nurse for the Emergency Care Medical Specialty Team at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, said:

“The contribution made from the student nurse cohort has been a tremendous boost in supporting in the care of patients. Joining the frontline at the best of times can be daunting, and to see the skill, professionalism and enthusiasm brought by the students is a testament to their training.

“They work closely with the staff across services, who help support them in the delivery of everything from day-to-day tasks to planning and delivering care in both the COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 wards. These are unprecedented times and everyone is working together, adapting to changing circumstances and experiencing new kinds of pressures. Despite this, by working jointly, we’re able to continue delivering effective person centred care throughout and I’m extremely proud of the way the whole team has responded to the pandemic.

“This has been a career defining moment for everyone within healthcare.”

UWS is Scotland’s largest provider of nursing and midwifery education, with all four of its Scottish campuses equipped with state-of-the-art clinical skills simulation facilities, replicating hospital, primary care and domestic environments.

Commenting on the students’ experiences, Julie Edgar, Dean of the School of Health and Life Sciences at UWS, said: “It is hard to put into words how proud we are of all of our students who have risen to the challenge and opted in to help our NHS at this vital time. It has been fantastic to watch Rebecca and Stephanie’s video diaries of their time based at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

“Hands-on experience is a key component of all of our programmes, with a large proportion of our pre-registration nursing and midwifery programmes delivered in practice. It is with this in mind that we had absolute confidence our students would be well-prepared to lend an important hand in supporting the NHS and others on the frontline at this time.

“Each and every one of our students should feel incredibly proud of themselves and know that UWS is here to support them every step of the way.”


For more information, please contact:

Senior Communications Office, NHSGGC, Neil McSeveny on [email protected] or call 07971 267 759


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Last Updated: 11 November 2021