Should Student Nurses receive a wage for their Placement?

By Alison Williamson

With such a high level of work, student nurses have been petitioning for years to receive living wage while on placement.

The Nursing and Midwifery council requires all student nurses to complete a minimum of 2300 hours of practice in a clinical style setting; achieved in places like a hospital, GP practice or in a nursing home.

In 2018, a petition for trainee nurses to get the living wage received 17,000 signatures within the first three days.

This support emphasises the struggles and stress of the workloads for students who may then start to worry about their social life and financial problems.

Lisa Boedt, is in her final year of her Nursing degree at the University of Stirling. Originally from Sweden, she believes student nurses struggle from a ‘lack of funding.’

“As I am an EU student, I don’t get any expenses paid for me or a bursary from the government. My tuition fees are paid by SAAS and that’s it.”

Scottish students currently receive a bursary to help them fund their degree. In 2019, the bursary was set at £8100 and looks to increase to £10,000 next year.

In England, however, the bursary was scrapped and since then the number of trainee student nurses has dropped dramatically.

Nicola Sturgeon, has long backed student nurses saying in a party conference in 2018 that they should ‘come to Scotland.’

“We know the value of our nurses. We know the value of our NHS. And to anyone across the UK attracted to a career in nursing, our message is simple. Come to Scotland.”

With student nurse’s placement being full-time work, many worry about their own health; not for only themselves, but the risk that they may put their patient’s health in also.

Lisa works part-time at the AMF bowling alley in Stirling, and often struggles to juggle her job with her placement.

She said, “I work a minimum of 36 hours to 48 hours a week on placement. There is no routine, we work nights, weekends and random days that change every week. Working part time on top of that, even just a ten hour contract, means I’ll work up to 58 hours a week.”

Lisa Boedt, working her shift at the bowling after 6 days straight of placement.

With very little time for a social life, Lisa often finds herself exhausted as she normally has no days off in between.

“When I go straight from placement to work I am doing a 15-16 hour day.

I have great mentors who let me choose my shifts to accommodate for my work at the bowling. However, it is frustrating for everyone, and either way it’s exhausting, and I was utterly burnt out by the end of my last placement.”

Despite all these hardships, Lisa disagrees with many of her student friends and believes that, even without a bursary, student nurses ‘should not get paid.’

“I don’t think they need to go as far as pay us a wage, because we are not contracted. Although, it is annoying when staff treat us as extra carers. I would rather, and think we should, be paid travel expenses, and possibly get a stipend for food when we’re on, especially on night shifts.”

With no sign of the bursary coming back in England and Wales, or any sign of even an apprentice pay being given to the student nurses, it looks like they are set to continue to struggle on.

Scottish students will continue to receive their bursary in the next few years, but who knows what the future holds for the student nursing career path.

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