Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for medical, nursing and midwifery students

Guidance on student support for medical, nursing and midwifery students during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance is not current.

Nursing and Midwifery students in their final six months of their pre-registration programme


Given the significant pressures on the system and the need to ensure that front line services are fully supported it is not possible to continue to provide the current programme for students in these years of study. You do not need to be concerned about this.

Students will be given the option to opt in to a revised programme structure as set out below.

This is voluntary and if you do not feel able to opt in to this you will be supported by your university to consider the options available to you which may include continuing with the academic elements of your study through distance learning/online approaches, or an authorised break in your studies. Each university programme is different, and these options should be discussed with the university

Revised programme delivery

You will be asked to opt in to an arrangement whereby you move in to clinical practice during this emergency period. It will not be possible for students to be supernumerary during their time in clinical practice during this emergency situation, but you will receive appropriate support and supervision within an appropriate delegation framework.

The exact nature of the role to be undertaken and the level of supervision will be agreed between each student and the organisation in which they will be working. In the majority of cases, we will seek to place students in the placement than had already been arranged for them, or in an organisation where they have previously undertaken a placement. The hours you work will contribute to your overall programme to recognise the valuable contribution you are making and can offer to health and care delivery in these challenging times.

It is recognised that you will need to be supported and supervised clinically during such deployment to develop your confidence. It is envisaged that support could be offered as an extension to the pastoral care and clinical support currently offered by your university. This will build on the already close partnership working established between universities and local employers.

This revision of the programme is for all students in the final six months of their programme, and is separate from the temporary register. NHS Education for Scotland and universities will work closely together to assess what this means for students and how they can be supported to achieve the course requirements across the remaining period of their studies, and within the original timeframe of your degree.

What does this mean for your education programme?

Universities will continue to provide support to students and the student's time in clinical practice can be used to support achievement of required practice hours. You will be paid the remainder of your bursary as you will be required to continue to study to complete the rest of your course. Bursary allowances as currently paid will continue.

If you are unable to undertake clinical practice, and take a break in studies, you should discuss this with your university, as continuation of bursary will be dependent on the reasons for the break, under the same conditions as at present.

Given the significant change in time spent in clinical practice, consideration will need to be given as to how students can be supported to meet the academic course requirements. The NMC will work closely with the Council of Deans of Health Scotland and universities to assess what this means for students and how they can be supported to achieve the course requirements across the remaining period of their studies.

Will this have a financial impact on students?

While in clinical practice you will be paid in line with the terms and conditions of the organisation in which you are working and national guidelines (e.g. Agenda for Change) in line with a specifically developed Band 4 role description.

You will not be able to claim travel expenses while employed.

What action do students need to take?

Your university will be in touch with you to discuss the revised programme delivery model and what it means for you:

  • If you decide to opt in to work in clinical practice, your university will work with you to identify your placement. This information will then be provided to the NHS who will identify an appropriate organisation for you to work in. This organisation will then be in touch with you to discuss your deployment in more detail and answer your questions. You will be able to 'opt out' again at a later stage if necessary via your University.
  • If you decide you do not want to work in clinical practice, your university will discuss alternative options with you including continuation of the academic elements of your programme.

Decisions for opening a temporary register for student nurses in the final six months of their NMC approved programme

Under new legislation, the NMC has emergency powers to establish a Covid-19 temporary register. The second stage of this temporary register may be to establish a specific temporary register for nursing students in the final six months of their programme, which would have specific conditions on practice to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place.

In line with the earlier joint statement the NMC will only consider asking student nurses whether they would like to join this emergency register if we believe that this is necessary to further benefit our health services and the people who use them. Further details about this will be made available to students on the NMC website. Universities will support you in understanding the choices and options available to you at this time.

For some students, if and when the temporary student register opens, and where it is appropriate and there is a service need, there may be an opportunity to join the emergency register.

Once the emergency register is opened, after a period of time, and with advice from the HEI and clinical staff, nursing students could be transferred to the temporary register. If you choose to join the temporary register you will complete a transitionary period as a band 4 then move to band 5 in line with the changing duties of the role.

Student midwives will continue to work in clinical practice, supervised, but will not have the option of entering onto the emergency register because of the autonomous role of the midwife.

To support student nurses who opt to join the temporary register you will be offered a bespoke package of support to enable you to practice . This will include:

  • An induction including all key mandatory training requirements to ensure you are supported to practice safely
  • Support to develop skills ordinarily reserved for preceptorship
  • More specific guidance, for example, on the management of coronavirus and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)



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