Teesside University nursing graduates who completed their studies just a few weeks ago are now joining the workforce as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues.


The University’s School of Health & Life Sciences saw 200 new nurses complete their courses this January in a range of degrees, including specialisms in adult, child, mental health and learning and disability nursing.


It comes after a number of the University’s student nurses opted in to start work on hospital wards last year while still completing their studies, taking on the role of aspirant nurses to support hospital trusts in the campaign against COVID-19.


Among student nurses who finished their degrees last month was Michelle Skiba, 48, from Middlesbrough, who completed the BSc Hons Nursing (Adult). She is now working as a registered nurse on the orthopaedic/trauma ward at James Cook University Hospital.


Michelle originally returned to education around six years ago while working as a care assistant, in order to complete a foundation degree at Teesside University.


She said: “I was keen to progress at work, which led me to do the foundation course. I had three daughters financially dependent on me, so couldn’t leave work to study, but doing the foundation course enabled study while working. It offered a fantastic opportunity for me to progress.


“After completing the FdSc, I was offered an assistant practitioner role in respiratory medicine, caring for respiratory patients. The role was fulfilling, but I was encouraged to top up to the nursing degree, so I applied for the direct entry to adult nursing.


“I am now a registered nurse working on orthopaedic/trauma. The degree gave me a thirst for knowledge and I had some fantastic teaching, due to the varied teaching styles of each tutor. It was able to apply what I had learned effectively to situations which enabled me to recall the information when needed for situations. The content of modules prepared me well.”


Michelle added: “I chose Teesside to complete the degree, having studied there previously and knew there was a high standard of teaching and opportunities and support.

“I enjoyed the student experience, visiting various cafés with friends and the change in routine. The library, and some of the other areas with computers, were a godsend, providing a place for quiet study. I thoroughly enjoyed my two years as a student nurse and I have been able to slot into my role as a nurse with ease.”


Alison Robinson, Principal Lecturer (Programmes) in the School of Health & Life Sciences Department of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “Our newly qualified nursing graduates are entering the workforce at an important and critical time. We are all incredibly proud of them and wish them all well with their future nursing careers.


“They will be an amazing asset to the NHS as we all continue to face uncertain times. Thanks to our practice staff too, who have supported our students during such difficult times and helping to ensure we have a well-prepared workforce.”