Over 25,000 students are assisting with the COVID-19 response.
Student nurses are being left vulnerable after being told to undertake unsupervised drug rounds or other tasks that are usually outside of their scope of practice.
In April, over 25,000 students were deployed to the front line on extended and paid clinical placements to assist with the COVID-19 response following approval by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
NursingNotes has since spoken to several student nurses who have been told to undertake tasks that are outside of their normal scope of practice.
Louise, a student nurse from London, claims there is a “lack of a consistent message to student nurses” on what their role is while undertaking extended clinical placements.
She admitted to having been aware of student nurses being asked to undertake drug rounds and being asked to have end of life discussions without supervision. “Thankfully, I have the confidence to speak up and highlight any issues, but I know many students nurses are scared to question practice supervisors or the university,” she added.
Other students told us they had been instructed to administer intravenous (IV) medications and even undertake invasive procedures that are usually reserved for experienced staff such as rectal examinations.
All of the students we spoke claimed to have received either minimal or no support from their university.
It is believed the confusion has stemmed from Registered Nursing Associates also being paid a Band 4 salary and the roles being so closely linked.
Earlier this week, Jessica Sainsbury – Chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Student Committee, told the NursingTimes that some students have been told “you’re being paid at band 4 and band 4s in this trust, if they are competent, can do certain or all meds unsupervised”.
Dr. Geraldine Walters CBE, Director of Professional Practice for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) told us that “From the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve been committed to working with our partners to ensure the safe placement of students in practice, as they contribute in the response to the pandemic.
“As our emergency standards set out, students on extended placements should not be undertaking any activities that would not normally be a part of their course. Any care activities they do undertake should be with supervision, including the administration of drugs.”
“Where students have concerns, we would encourage them to first raise these with their university. They can also get in touch with us, so we can ensure our standards and requirements are being met.”