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Gateshead College students step up to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic

Students from across the North East have stepped out of the classroom and into frontline roles to help saves lives and care for those with COVID-19.

Around 88 health and social care students at Gateshead College have been putting their training into practice over the last 12 weeks.

Whether that’s working in critical care hospital wards, attending COVID-19 call outs as paramedics or caring for residents in local care homes, Gateshead College students have strived to play a key role throughout the pandemic.

Chris Toon, deputy principal of Gateshead College, said: “While the college switched to a 100 per cent virtual working environment following Government-mandated closures, one of the biggest challenges we faced was ensuring practical-led courses were still given adequate hands on support throughout lockdown.

“For our health and social care students and apprentices, COVID-19 has provided the opportunity to step-up and take on new responsibilities.

“So many of our students have been reassigned to specific COVID-19 care roles where they’ve been able to put everything they’ve learnt on their course into practice, gaining valuable on-the-job experience.”

“We’re extremely proud of how well our students have adjusted at a time where emotions are running high and our NHS has been at a critical level. They have quickly adapted to their newfound roles, helping to provide much needed quality care during this time of great need.”

Sophie Graham is nearing the end of an access to HE Health course at Gateshead College before starting a Nursing Science degree at Northumbria University.

She is currently working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, redeployed from her role as a rehabilitation assistant to work on the critical care wards.

Sophie said: “There’s only one way I’d describe my time working in critical care and that is a huge privilege.

“And, as far as nursing training goes, this is possibly the best introduction anyone could have, it’s a massive learning experience.

“I could never have foreseen just how soon I’d be putting the knowledge and everything I have learned at college into practice.

“The ‘humans against disease’ module specifically has really helped me to understand the decisions being made and treatments for coronavirus patients.

“At work, I’m learning so much too, infection control is obviously really important and being a critical care nursing assistant, I’ve had some of the best training and experience using PPE.”