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Student nurses take a step forward


Stepping forward to help the NHS frontline are six student nurses from Leeds Beckett University. The team has been recruited early from their studies to start working for Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust as Aspirant Nurses.

Six student nurses pictured with two NHS staff, with social distancing in place

(From left to right): Siobhan Zagajewski, Charis Bower, Lauren Powell, Dannielle Dobb, Alexander Walker, Liliana Gabbiadini, Oliver Tull and Chris Daurge

The role of Aspirant Nurse is open to student nurses in the final six months of their programme who opted into the nationally led Student Nurse Volunteer Programme.The programme was set up in response to calls from NHS England for up to 18,000 student nurses across the country to assist during the current coronavirus crisis. 

By being designated as Aspirant Nurses, student nurses who would have graduated this September are allowed to begin to use their knowledge and skills appropriately during the crisis, whilst progressing their nurse education training.

They will be supported by a specialist team of experienced nurses from the Trust and will be working out and about in the community to support vulnerable patients, often in their own homes, to keep them safe and relieve pressure on the hospitals.

Four of the Aspirant Nurses have shared their initial experiences working on the frontline:

Oliver Tull

“I was apprehensive as to how it would all work, the extent of the virus on changes to practice and getting up to speed with the new ways of working.

“However, all the staff at LCH (Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust) have been so incredibly welcoming and proactive in getting us settled and stuck in.

“I am so grateful for all the hard work they’ve put in, as well as Leeds Beckett University, in getting us out into practice in these unprecedented times.

“My aspirations for the coming months include getting to know the patients, the community and colleagues, and becoming proficient in my role as an aspirant nurse – whilst also finishing up my academic work to become a Registered Nurse in three to four months’ time and continuing to work at LCH.”

Liliana Gabbiadini

“Whilst I am nervous, I was eager to begin work and join the team supporting patients through these turbulent times.

“I have been fortunate to be placed within a team I have previously worked with, and so knew I would have the full support from the staff around me during this experience.

“The patients we see are incredibly grateful for the work we do, and my family and friends have been so supportive.

“The coming months are so vital to my training and I know for me and my fellow aspirant nurses we are all on countdown to qualifying and receiving our pins.

“Being a nurse is such a rewarding career and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to care for individuals in their own homes, helping to not only treat conditions but also provide comfort and reassurance during these unpredictable times.”

Lauren Powell

“I feel I want to be part of the team who makes a real difference throughout this pandemic and continue this into my qualification.

“My aim as an aspirant nurse is to gain as many skills I can to make me a successful nurse. I want to help my colleagues through this period of unknown and provide excellent care to my patients.”

Dannielle Dobb

“At first, I was anxious about joining the frontline however we have been well-supported by Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Leeds Beckett University, so this has eased our worries.

“The transition from student nurse to aspirant nurse is going to be a challenge but with the continued support we will get through it and this opportunity will put us in good stead for when we qualify in September this year.

“I aim to grow in confidence and learn new skills. Working remotely in the community will enable me to think on my feet and be autonomous. I aspire to be the best possible nurse that I can be to ensure that my patients get the best possible care, as they deserve.”

Professor Peter Slee, Leeds Beckett University Vice Chancellor, said: "Community nurses have a vital role to play as the country continues to adapt to lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our six Aspirant Nurses who are working with Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust are joining an inspirational team providing an invaluable public service in these incredibly challenging times.

"For all those working with people affected by Covid-19, our thanks and gratitude go out to them all.”

Siobhan Zagajewski, Clinical Education Lead said: “We are really pleased to have our first wave of students, who all came from Leeds Beckett University, on board. I have been impressed by how committed and keen they are to come and support at this difficult time.

"Our experienced nurses and the education team at LCH, in partnership with the university will be supporting them every step of the way, to make sure they are working at an appropriate level and that they feel competent and confident to undertake activities.”

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