From education to employment

Supporting Student Wellbeing During a Pandemic

Returning to full-time education after a period away is a big decision at anytime but finding yourself in the middle of a global pandemic while studying and working in the healthcare industry, increases the need to focus on mental health and wellbeing.

After a period away from formal education, Vicky Gois made the decision to return to full-time education on the Access to Nursing and Healthcare Professions course at Cambridge Regional College. Little did she know that part-way through her studies Covid-19 would appear from nowhere, impacting every area of her life.

Following the national lockdown, Vicky saw her Access course go from complete campus delivery to being fully online within the space of a weekend. Vicky said, “Initially it was difficult to interact in the same way, we felt as though we couldn’t have group discussions as we had previously, and it felt as though our learning wouldn’t be as effective, but the tutors did a terrific job of adjusting to this new way of working.

“My personal situation, home-schooling two children of different ages, attending online lessons, running a household and working as part of a rapid response team at my local hospital, supporting staff during Covid-19, was very difficult indeed. The added pressures that Covid-19 brought, took me to breaking point at times. My shifts at the hospital were tiring, as Covid-19 devastated so many people around me. I found that my anxiety levels increased as I tried to find a way of finishing my assignments and keeping up with lessons and work.

“Throughout this time, I was assigned a Student Support Officer to check on my mental wellbeing, after my tutor referred me following a bout of panic attacks. This member of staff talked to me, gave me advice and suggested information forums and calming apps. There was a personal touch to the messages, and this is what stood out to me the most, it wasn’t just a case of generic messaging.

“The support was helpful and provided me with a way to address my worries and frustrations. The tutors were nothing less than exceptional and I truly believe that I would not have completed this course without them. I formed a strong bond with my peers and took away a higher-level of learning as a result of the unprecedented experience. Looking back now, I can see that it was both the best and worst year of mine and many others’ lives.”

Vicky is now studying midwifery with Anglia Ruskin University and is finding that the independent study skills developed on the Access course, coupled with strategies for managing her wellbeing, are proving an invaluable contribution to her success on the midwifery course.

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