Case study

Derby Trainee Nursing Associate supports COVID-19 response

Nikki Rushin is a second-year Trainee Nursing Associate at the University of Derby, who is working to support patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is one of several hundred of Derby’s nursing students supporting the frontline in hospitals.  

Nikki, who is employed by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and works at Highbury Hospital, is studying the Nursing Associate course at Derby. The two-year programme enables healthcare professionals to develop their skills to become a Registered Nursing Associate, complementing care provided by health care assistants, registered nurses and other allied health professionals.

During the coronavirus outbreak, Nikki has been helping to nurse patients on a mental health ward who have been diagnosed as positive for COVID-19.  

“One of our wards at Highbury Hospital has been turned into a COVID-19 ward for positively confirmed patients to be nursed in,” said Nikki. “Two other wards have separate segregation areas which are being used to nurse query COVID-19 patients. The hospital looks after patients with mental health issues and so supporting the patients mentally as well as physically has been important.”

Asked how she feels working to support the NHS during this time, Nikki said: “Because of the training I have been given by my Trust  I have felt very reassured. We have the correct PPE and this allows us to do our job without fear if we follow aseptic techniques correctly. 

“Some of our patients lack capacity and some do not have the understanding of what they are suffering from, so added support is vital to reassure them.”

Nikki was featured on Good Morning Britain with Lorraine Kelly following a tweet she posted about the importance of nursing staff staying calm during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has since received hundreds of messages praising her positive outlook and her commitment.

Image of tweet sent by Nikki praising NHS

“I am a very positive person and so I try to see the good in every situation,” says Nikki. “When I do have a wobble, I will talk to my friends and family and work through my worries. I spend time with my children and dogs and just try to come back to my current moment.”

Nikki, who was a Senior Health Care Assistant prior to starting the course at Derby, said she decided to take up the training to boost her skillset. She will complete her training at the University in 2021.

“I could never afford to train as a nurse and this course allows me to work full-time as well as study. The University has helped me to understand how to work as a registered professional, how to work with a mindset of accountability and procedure, to question everything, to work under strict NMC Guidelines and work following evidence-based practice.”

Nikki has also been given the role of Nursing Associate Ambassador by Health Education England (HEE), which offers her the opportunity to contribute to HEE’s work to develop and advance the Nursing Associate profession.

“Student nurses in the last six months of their programme are in the process of being deployed into extended placements to support the NHS during this public health emergency. For those who are, please do not worry, follow the NMC Code and work within your capabilities. Do not worry about asking for help and support from colleagues, and remember why you wanted to become a Nurse, Assistant Practitioner or Nursing Associate in the first place.”

Watch a video of Nikki talking about her role as a Trainee Nursing Associate here.

Image of Nikki Rushin in work uniform