Student Nurses Undertaking Acute Hospital Paid Placements during COVID-19: Rationale for Opting-In? A Qualitative Inquiry

Robert McSherry, Charlotte Eost-Telling, Dean Stevens, Jan Bailey, Rhian Crompton, Louise Taylor, Paul Kingston, Angela Simpson

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The research aim was to evaluate the rationale of undergraduate final-year student nurses to undertake paid clinical placements during COVID-19 (Wave 1). The nursing profession reacted innovatively to meet demands placed on the National Health Service during COVID-19. Temporary changes to professional regulation enabled final-year United Kingdom nursing students to voluntarily undertake paid placements in the National Health Service. Neither full-time employees nor full-time students, volunteers undertook a unique hybrid role bolstering the front-line health workforce. Using reflective qualitative inquiry, 17 volunteers evaluated reasoning for entering practice in acute hospitals. Online surveys based around the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council Competency Framework (NMC 2012) were completed weekly for 6 weeks. Data were thematically analysed. Six themes were identified, including sense of duty, and opting-in or out. These highlighted the importance of collaboration and the tripartite relationship between University, host and student during placement, and the influence of these on the learning experience. Several significant insights emerged for nurse education and curricula during pandemics related to patient safety, safety climate and governance. The insights were used to develop a “Student Nurses Placement Framework” with recommendations for Pre-During-Post placement, offering a guide for future nursing workforce recruitment and retention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1001
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Nursing management
  • Qualitative inquiry
  • Student learning and experience
  • Student nurses
  • Voluntary placements


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