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Student Tells of Impact of Coronavirus as she Joins Hospital Nursing Team

A University of Worcester student nurse has told of the “heart-breaking” impact of coronavirus she has seen working in healthcare and of her desire to help as she takes on an extended student nurse placement.

Rosie Wilkinson is working at the Alexandra Hospital, in Redditch, the same hospital she was born in, and the same department that her father trained in, as she joins the frontline in the Coronavirus pandemic.

Rosie has already been working as a healthcare assistant at the Hospital and has now been deployed there on a six-month paid placement to help in A&E.  She started this week (Monday, May 4).  

“It’s an opportunity to help,” said the 27-year-old, of Whitnash, near Leamington Spa.  “When you see the people that are being properly affected by it, it’s heart-breaking. 

“To be honest I would have done it for free.  I didn’t choose to be a nurse for the money.  I’m doing it because I wanted to help and look after people.  I would feel much worse if I sat at home and didn’t go in.”

Rosie has been combining online learning and support from the University with her healthcare assistant role, which includes sometimes acting as a runner to supply the intensive care unit so doctors and nurses don’t have to continually be removing their Personal Protective Equipment.  Although she has not been directly caring for coronavirus patients, she told of the impact the situation is having.

She said: “What I have realised doing shifts as a healthcare assistant is that this is a different kind of illness we’re dealing with.  When you have got somebody who is young, who is otherwise physically fit, who is being prepared to go on a ventilator and you see the look in their eyes as they’re going into the room and not knowing if they’re going to wake up, that’s what sticks with me.  You see that this could be the last time they talk to somebody and actually they can’t see the person they’re talking to.  Their family isn’t with them.  That’s what I’m finding really hard. 

“As a runner I have delivered belongings to family members after they have died and that’s been difficult as they never got to say goodbye.  You can’t even give them a hug.

“You see the staff coming off the ward and taking their masks off and seeing how the pressure has affected their faces and how tiring the work is.  In A&E it has also made a difference as everybody who is coming in are people who really need to be there.”

The A&E department is where Rosie, who is in the third year of her Adult Nursing degree, already has a job after she qualifies. Coincidentally this was where her father did his last placement on his way to becoming a GP. 

“It was daunting until I knew where I was going,” she said.  Because I have worked in A&E before I know I have got the support there and I’m excited to work with them as a team.”

Growing up in Solihull, originally Rosie had not planned on a career in nursing, though she was surrounded by the medical profession; her mother and sister are nurses and father a GP.  In 2012 she moved to London to work as an actress.  But, four years on, an accident meant Rosie had to return to live with her parents as she recuperated from reconstructive surgery on her shoulder.  Realising she didn’t want to act any more, she looked at midwifery.  However, on Open Day at the University of Worcester she was won over by the Nursing course.

“I have loved it,” she said.  “It’s the hardest thing I have ever done, but it’s the most rewarding and I can’t imagine doing my training anywhere else.  Also, Worcester has a good reputation and I’ve had other trusts approach me about working for them because I was a Worcester student.”