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The impact of COVID-19 on practice learning in nurse education

02 December 2021
11 min read
Volume 26 · Issue 12


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted healthcare education and delivery, including both theory and practice learning. Academic staff responded rapidly to move teaching online during the first lockdown, with many returning to practice to deliver care or upskill practice staff to work in critical care. Many pre-registration students responded by becoming paid NHS employees, contributing to care delivery while remaining on their programme of study. Practice learning partners, despite the challenges of the pandemic, continued to support students to achieve their registration status. This occurred within the context of the Emergency and Recovery Standards, published by the Nursing and Midwifery Council between March 2020 and September 2021. This paper sets out the response of students, practice learning partners and higher education institutions involved in pre-registration nursing and midwifery programmes.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) (2020) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020, there have been constant adjustments to the way people live, work and play. Much has been written about the uncertainty of the disease trajectory, and the management and treatment of the virus. The impact of lockdowns on personal health and wellbeing and the rapid changes to working practices, including the closure of many businesses and schools, is well documented. Within the context of the pandemic, the profile and value of nurses has risen in the press, which has provided an opportunity to showcase the sometimes invisible work of community nurses (Green et al, 2020).

Nurse education has also faced similar challenges to those experienced by wider society and healthcare as a whole. Nurse education, pre-registration nursing programmes and continuing professional development for registered nurses are developed and delivered in partnership by universities and practice learning partners (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2018c). This has been established within the context of ensuring the future workforce of nurses, midwives and district nurses is able to complete programmes of study, as well as planning for future cohorts to maintain the pipeline for the workforce. This paper uses London as a case study to explore aspects of the impact of COVID-19 on nurse education, with a particular focus on pre-registration nursing.

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