Many newly qualified nurses and midwives say they feel unprepared for their first job due to missed learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey from UNISON has found.
Over two thirds (70%) of students or newly qualified nurses and midwives surveyed believe they have missed out on important learning experiences during the pandemic. The findings also show more than half (56%) of final year students worry they’re not as prepared for qualification as they should be, according to the survey.
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‘Students have done amazingly well to complete their studies. But many feel they’ve missed out on important experiences and worry how they’ll cope beginning their careers at this difficult time,’ said UNISON’s national student nurse lead Joy O’Gorman.
‘It’s really important the NHS and other employers support UNISON’s calls for a little extra support in the workplace. It's vital we're supported and feel safe in our roles as newly qualified health staff. Otherwise, we fear we won’t be able to achieve our full potential as nurses and midwives.’
Inadequate support has been a major issue for many nurses and midwives beginning their careers. Three fifths (60%) of those in work said the pressures have already made them consider leaving their jobs. A similar proportion (62%) say they are regularly anxious and stressed by their roles. Nearly nine in ten (89%) agree guaranteed, regular and paid “protected time” – that means time away from clinical work – for learning and development, and for looking after their own wellbeing, is useful or essential.
The same proportion (89%) believe it would be useful or essential for their employer to guarantee time to adjust to their new jobs where they are not considered part of the staff.
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‘Unprecedented demands have been placed on student nurses and midwives during Covid. Constructive and meaningful support in the workplace is vital for those newly qualified so they can fulfil their potential. Some may lack confidence because they’ve missed out on some training opportunities,’ said UNISON national officer for nursing Stuart Tuckwood.
‘Health service leaders promised no student would be disadvantaged by their experiences during the pandemic. They must now support students who came to the rescue of the NHS when asked. This is to ensure they not only stay in their new roles but also thrive.’