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As for so many people late March 2020 saw a sudden change in the way my working life looked. I’m a qualified nurse and teacher and prior to the pandemic balanced my time between working as a visiting lecturer in nursing for a London university, a freelance trainer for ECG and also as a health professional in a community based cardiac rehabilitation programme. I love the variety that these roles offer and the opportunity to work with patients, students and other health professionals.

Within a very short space of time the cardiac rehabilitation group closed and the university stopped all face to face teaching. Along with my university colleagues we immediately started thinking about how we could support our student nurses as well as deliver teaching that was meant to be hands on simulated practice. This was a real challenge, but we are so lucky that there is the technology available to support learning in different ways and I was very impressed with some of the ideas that colleagues came up with at short notice. I have no doubt that many of these will be taken forward in the future.

Although I have spent many years as a lecturer, I consider myself first and foremost a nurse. Like many I wanted to see what I could do to help and how I could use my skills to help during the pandemic. I was already involved with a project updating online clinical skills for those returning to practice or who were having to work in a different area but wanted to offer my skills in a practical way too. I applied to the bank of my local hospital. I was quite anxious about the idea of working on the frontline not only because I haven’t worked in a hospital for a few years but also because of the impact it potentially would have on my family. The process ended up being quite a long one as there were a number of online modules that needed to be completed. The upside of this was that I felt my CPD requirements would be met for a while. During the process it was noted that I taught a lot of basic life support, both for the university but also as a freelance trainer for ECG. I was asked if I could help with the BLS training both for the staff annual mandatory updates and also for new staff starting at the hospital. It was a great way of using my skills in an appropriate way and I’ve enjoyed being part of the local hospital.

I also got involved with the Covid antibody testing that ECG have been doing as a project. Initially this involved supervising staff from a company that had been trained in undertaking the tests. I liked working with these staff and watching their confidence grow as they undertook the testing. I’ve recently also worked in the Covid antibody testing clinic at ECG. I appreciated meeting those that came in for tests. Some of whom had been very unwell with Covid – 19 like symptoms earlier in the year. It’s a great service that has been put in place and I’m sure it will continue to be very popular.

Although I really miss face to face teaching and training, I’ve relished the opportunity to try different things and also work in different ways. It is very hard at the moment to visualise what teaching and training will be like over the next few months but I think companies like ECG have worked very hard to make the necessary changes to ensure that safe training can continue and have come up with innovative alternatives to support those in practice in keeping up to date.

Written by Kate Olsan, Thursday 3rd September 2020