Thoughts about Going Back to Placement!

After being pulled from placement mid-March, less than 5 shifts into year three, it's been a long awaited period until we can get back out to the clinical areas to do what we love. I think it's been a strange period of time for everyone but no one more than our cohort and I wanted to share my feelings on returning.

Our cohort had their last theory and placement blocks of year two changed, which means I have had just 4.5 shifts since October, and I finished a week early when I went to Norway, so it's been even longer! Going into placement after practically 10 months away, as a final year student, expected to know things is daunting. I feel like I should be expected to be responsible for care of women and yet I am so out of practice. I think labour suite is making me the most nervous but I have a few week's before then, mainly because I need my 40th birth but it's been so long since normality! My action plan is to be honest with my mentor when I go back and share my feelings, asking for additional support for the first couple of shifts and then I am sure it will all come flooding back.

My biggest worry is actually about wearing the personal protective equipment (PPE). Given that the risk of Covid-19, whilst low, is still there, we are having to take extra precautions to protect ourselves. This includes but is not limited to changing in and out of uniform on the hospital site and wearing the full gear: multiple pairs of gloves, gowns and visors. I struggle wearing masks for less than an hour and whilst it gets easier as time goes on, the first 10 minutes or so, always makes me panic. I am also a really hot-bodied person and get warm fast. I struggle in the heat normally so this is going to be fun!
I think one of the aspects that's caused the most conversation has been the death in service insurance. When the pandemic was first initiated, the government quickly put in place the band 4 jobs for third year students in nursing and midwifery. This meant that students were paid to be out in practice and received the benefits associated with that, including the insurance and pension cover for example. Since the government pulled these positions, it has been up to trusts as to whether or not to continue the paid placements and most have decided against, simply because of affordability. With this decision, the death in service is no longer provided. After conversations with the faculty and university, the decision has been made for them not to cover the death in service insurance as a university either. This has obviously been upsetting for students and I think that whilst we have been told the risk of Covid-19 in practice is now "low", this has also raised another aspect which needs addressing nationally.

I believe that all healthcare students should have a death in service insurance policy, regardless of pandemics, just as all staff do. Many students have voiced the concept of "what makes students lives less valuable than staff?", when often, we are doing the same jobs and having increased patient/client contact. I think this conversation has sparked the concept and made us as students more knowledgeable on the topic and disparity.

I know these feelings are shared by many students across the country and probably the world, so I don't feel alone and I am sure that we will be incredibly well supported when we get back out but nevertheless, it's still a little daunting. I am however, incredibly excited to be back supporting women and doing what I love in practice.