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International Nurses Day: How University evolved to train the heroes of today

ByPress Office Sunderland

May 18, 2020

The last four years has seen the University of Sunderland’s School of Nursing grow from a fledgling training provider with a handful of nurses, to a range of programmes whose reputation now attracts hundreds of students from across the globe.

To share in the success of all our student nurses, graduates, academic staff and health partners, the University is joining the celebrations for International Nurses Day 2020, highlighting the impact our nurses are having on our Sunderland, London and overseas campuses and within their various health settings.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) leads the global celebrations on May 12 – the anniversary of the birth of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. The theme this year focuses on the “true value of nurses to the people of the world”.

Sue Brent, Head of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Sunderland, said: “We are incredibly proud of all our students who have committed everything to our programmes and deserve every bit of our support to maintain that commitment and succeed.

“That’s why we are proud to join our colleagues across the globe today in celebrating the incredible work nurses do; now more than ever before as they play a key role in helping to fight the coronavirus pandemic.”

Hundreds of Sunderland’s graduate and student nurses have been deployed – or are waiting to join – the frontline to help in fight against Covid-19.

Just weeks ago a 40-strong graduating cohort of nurses began working at hospitals across the North East as the NHS faces unprecedented pressures due to the pandemic.

Now, 49 third-year Nursing students, who are in their last six months of study, have taken up voluntary posts at hospitals in Newcastle, North Tees & Hartlepool, Sunderland and South Tyneside. A further 54 second-year students are volunteering to join from the beginning of June, with another potential 46 set to join them.

Sue added: “At Sunderland, we believe our strength lies in our very dynamic team with a wealth of teaching and professional experience, training our students with the same care and reverence with which we would treat our patients.

“Based on the positive feedback from our student community as well as our external health partners, this really shows how dedicated the team is to the student experience.

“On graduation our students will work across a wide range of specialities, in a variety of settings, from NHS hospitals, private sector, schools, community, care homes, hospices, prisons, the military, to industry and third sector organisations to name but a few.

“On this International Nurses Day I want to extend a hand of thanks and appreciation to all of the wonderful nurses out there, who work hard every day, always putting their patients first.”

Over the last four years the School of Nursing has invested millions in clinical facilities and expanded from a newcomer of pre-registration nursing programs, into mental health, learning disability nursing, degree apprenticeships, as well as the Master’s and Top Up degrees both of which are attracting students internationally from countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Malaysia.

Investment in the School of Nursing will continue into the future. The University is already benefiting from a £2.5m donation from entrepreneur and philanthropist Helen McArdle CBE, who is passionate about the delivery of high-quality nursing and healthcare.

The donation has supported the development of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute on City Campus, the only one in the UK dedicated to nursing research.

Sunderland’s Dr John Unsworth – Head of Learning and Teaching Enhancement as an ICN Global Scholar, influencing policy at a national and international level – believes it’s important now more than ever to celebrate the value of our nurses.

He said: “International Nurses Day 2020 is especially poignant, not only does it mark 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale but it also marks the most significant global pandemic in more than 100 years.

“The impact on healthcare and daily life across the world has been unprecedented with nurses and other health workers caring for patients on the frontline.

“Sadly, across the world many of our colleagues have lost their lives, and the psychological trauma of caring for people at the end of their lives without family members present has taken its toll.

“What is clear is that society needs nurses more than ever and what would have been the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife has placed nurses centre stage in circumstances no one would have imagined.

“As we celebrate nursing globally it is time to remember the colleagues we have lost and to pay tribute to the highly skilled and trained staff who are caring for the most vulnerable in society day in day out whether in intensive care, our community services or in care homes.”