I recently met with Robert Bogyere – a student nurse, member of the UEA Nursing Society and Royal College of Nursing Easter Board – in my constituency office to hear firsthand about issues facing student nurses, present and future. This piece by Robert outlines some of the issues we talked about: thank you to him for taking the time to write it up so more people can benefit from his insight.
The Student Nurse Bursary – A student’s perspective! By Robert Bogyere
The government’s decision to scrap the student nurse bursary in 2017, was met with opposition from a number of MPs, along with warnings about the future of healthcare and ultimately the NHS.
The removal of the student bursary was intended as a way to increase the number of training places available and in effect increase the number of nurses, however this has not been the case and as predicted the result has created unfavourable financial conditions for student nurses. With most struggling to maintain a work-life balance as student loans do not stretch far enough to cover rent and daily living.
Moreover, it has made nursing training less appealing for prospective students because many would rather not take on such a demanding course with so little financial support, while others prefer not to ruck up student loan debts. Having had a shortage of nurses prior to the decision, this is worrying for the future as there is now an even bigger shift towards having no qualified staff with enough training to care for vulnerable people.
Add to this the fact that nursing is longer and tougher than other courses, making it almost impossible for students to have jobs outside of nursing, as they are already working. Registration with the Nursing and Midwifery council requires a nurse to have completed a minimum of 2300 hours of clinical practice over the course of their training.
Therefore, during clinical placement students work full time hours similar to that of qualified staff including nights and weekends and although there is a lot of learning and experience to be gained, it is hard work and at the end of the day students are emotionally and physically drained just like qualified staff and yet do not receive an incentive for the services they render to the public.
This can be very demotivating at times and together with the intensity of the course – increases dropout rates, further diminishing the stock of students available to become qualified staff.
Given that there is a national demand for nurses, an immediate change is needed to provide student nurses and indeed all other healthcare students with better financial support. Although there is no quick fix for this, results need to be tangible and impactful, to increase motivation and recruitment.