Student nurse from Morecambe describes Covid placement as ‘phenomenal experience’

With third year student nurses invited back on placements to support the NHS last month, one student nurse recalls his experience of helping out on the frontline last March.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 3:45 pm
Oliver Reynolds.

Oliver Reynolds, 21, from Morecambe, was in his second year of studying adult nursing when he agreed to go on the frontline at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary for a Covid placement.

Oliver worked on the respiratory ward, which was the primary ward for Covid patients, where he felt the full brunt of the pandemic but said that the experience of learning under pressure in an acute environment was ‘phenomenal’.

He said: “My experience on a respiratory ward was extremely challenging. There was so much pressure. My mind was that busy all the time and the pressure was tremendous.

“For part of my role, I was expected to communicate with patients with my mouth covered by wearing PPE, which in itself was extremely challenging as patients recovering from covid are often disorientated and confused.

“I’d never worked with patients who had required so much oxygen before and so it was a steep learning curve.

“I helped relatives maintain contact through iPad and FaceTime and I could hear them saying their final goodbyes. It felt inhumane at times but I was so was glad to help them at such a difficult time.”

Oliver was inspired to become a nurse six years ago when he was still in school and his grandad was suddenly taken ill and rushed to A&E for COPD, a progressive lung disease. Although the experience was initially distressing, it went on to inspire a burgeoning interest in healthcare for Oliver.

Initially drawn to being a paramedic, he quickly changed his mind to pursue a career in nursing. The fast pace of A&E appealed, and it is there that he take up a job upon graduating later this year.

His experience really brought home to him the importance of living life to the fullest. Some of the patients he cared for who were severely ill were the same age as his mum.

He continued; “It puts in perspective that we can’t take things for granted. Not seeing friends, not going out. We all have to make sacrifices in order that everyone stays safe.”

Oliver was approached to opt in to Covid placements again this year, but bBeing at a different stage in his academic career, he decided to focus on his studies so declined the offer.

Final year nurses were asked to return to paid clinical placements to support the Covid response with many having started their placements over the last few weeks.

Opting in to undertake a paid placement is entirely voluntary.