On April 3, Health Education England announced more than 5,000 student nurses had volunteered to help the NHS in dealing with the current pandemic. Among them is Jordan Cunningham, a 26 year-old second year nurse who has just volunteered to work at Royal Berkshire Hospital to help in its fight against COVID-19. Ryan Cumberworth has been speaking to her:
Asked why she volunteered as soon as the email was sent to thousands of student nurses and doctors, Jordan has no hesitation. “I didn’t have to think about it. I straightaway said yes because I know this is what I want to do, this is where I’m supposed to be.”
Like many other healthcare professionals, her home influenced her to become a nurse. “My mum has MS, and that spurred me on to my nursing degree because without the NHS she would have struggled a lot more than she already does,” she explains.
Before she volunteered, she was working on placement that abruptly got cancelled when the pandemic struck, and Jordan was left – in her words – feeling “absolutely useless”. But that’s all changed now she finds herself working on a ward that’s next door to an Intensive Care Unit where patients suffering from the virus are treated and where the ward s
ister herself has COVID-19. Jordan is unfazed by it all: “I now know this is where I’m supposed to be. I love my job.”
Rather than see it as a challenge, Jordan views it as an opportunity. “I know it’s not an ideal situation but it’s a time where you can show how capable you are as a nurse. I’m basically a nurse but they’ve just put the student part in front so they don’t go so hard on me!”
Jordan works three shifts a week that are each 12 hours and 30 minutes long. Her placement will last for six months, rather than the traditional six-to-nine weeks.
Her day starts at 4:50 am, arriving at work for 7am and taking over from the night staff at 7.30am. Her role is to make sure the patients are happy and comfortable and that they have their medication.
As a new nurse thrown into the frontline of a pandemic, how does she cope with the demands of the job? “By doing absolutely nothing on my days off,” she says. “And drinking gin! I’m glad I am still working otherwise I would be stuck in the house.”
Far from getting a break, her course still demands her academic work be completed, which means university classes every Tuesday from 9am til 5pm . To go on the nurse and midwifery list you have to have done 2,300 practical hours and 2,300 theory hours. By the end of her placement at the hospital, she would have done 2,600 practical hours.
“So I’m hoping they’ll say don’t worry about the rest of your theory, you can qualify!”
Frankly, I’d say it’s the least she can hope for.