The coronavirus crisis has put a major strain on the healthcare system, and its effects are beginning to be felt. This has resulted in British medical schools being asked to fast-track medical students in their final year to get more doctors in the wards. It has also focussed attention on the nursing shortage that was already a major area of concern before the crisis. This is why A-level students are urged to study nursing to join the fight against COVID-19. Let’s put this in the larger context of the coronavirus pandemic before discussing how it will impact the UK for the foreseeable future.
Faster Certification for Existing Medical Students
Medical schools are already waiving requirements for clinical exams or using alternative assessments to let students finish their degree and get to work. For example, the MSC advised the United Kingdom’s 42 medical schools to provisionally register final year students with the GMC so they can work as doctors as soon as possible.
This is arguably necessary because clinical work with live patients has been suspended in many areas. Waiting for them to finish clinicals may result in delays of months or years before they become newly minted doctors, and the NHS is already short of doctors.
Medical schools are asked to use alternative methods of assessment like previous test results and placement grades among other things. Clinical testing has not only been suspended to accelerate certification, but also to decrease chances for transmission. There’s also the issue that there might simply not be enough staff on hand to provide formal clinical teaching.
All of this is aside from medical schools asked to release their staff from teaching duties so they can help take care of patients. If that happens, the training of future doctors will be slowed down, depending on how long they’re in the field.
A Greater Interest in Nursing from Up-and-Coming Students
We’re already starting to talk about the “COVID generation” to refer to teenagers who were impacted by the lockdown restrictions. This generation will have a very different attitude towards education, and their career interests as well. More importantly, the current generation of kids finishing school are starting to appreciate the importance of the healthcare system and those who work within it.
Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are finally being recognised as the essential workers that they truly are and always have been. Furthermore, they’re starting to get the respect they deserve, as demonstrated by the ‘clap for carers’ movement. This has already led to a surge in UCAS applications for nursing programs. Training for them has also been made a priority, as demonstrated by the £170m budgeted to train additional nurse apprentices.
For students who were interested in joining the ranks, sites like Uni Compare allow you to check the requirements and options for a wide variety of nursing undergraduate courses. You can research their location, study mode, university rating, and TEF rating. For example, you can search for part-time or full-time nursing programs. Furthermore, you can search for specialised programs in children’s nursing or mental health nursing. Nursing courses such as these will prepare you for a bright future, no matter what you want to do.
There is and has been a nursing shortage for a long time now, and the recent crisis has done nothing but put it in the spotlight. This isn’t going to change if there’s a short-term influx of nursing students. The demands of a growing and aging population aren’t going to reduce demand for nurses. This is why anyone who is qualified to work as a nurse has a strong future ahead of them.
Furthermore, nursing work is varied, challenging, and rewarding. You’ll never get bored, and you can find a decent paying job almost anywhere. A side benefit of entering nursing is the economic security it provides, and that’s invaluable in a world where non-essential workers are struggling to pay the bills. Given the large and growing number of unfilled nursing positions, the odds are that nurses will receive better than average pay raises.
Not only that, but the public’s support could also play in the favour of healthcare professional wage demands. Brit voters were already supporting pay raises through income tax to support NHS workers way before this crisis, and this support is now stronger than ever. People are realising how important a role they have from now on, so those entering the field can expect better conditions, and to get their leaders’ attention when making revisions.
Nurses have always been the backbone of healthcare. However, society is starting to appreciate them once again, and this may lead to enough graduates entering the field to ease the nursing shortage that’s plagued the NHS for years.