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Frontline Students Help to Save Lives During Pandemic

Students from across the North East have played a key role in the region’s fight against the coronavirus, stepping into frontline roles to help save lives and care for those with COVID-19.

Swapping their classroom and industry placements for crisis care briefings and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), around 88 health and social care students at Gateshead College have been putting their training into practice over the last 12 weeks.

Whether that’s working in critical care coronavirus hospital wards, attending COVID-19 call outs as paramedics or caring for coronavirus residents in local care homes, Gateshead College students have played a key role throughout the pandemic.

Chris Toon, Deputy Principal at Gateshead College, said: “While the college switched to a 100% virtual working environment following government closure, one of the biggest challenges we faced was ensuring practical led courses were still given adequate hands on support throughout lockdown.

“For our health and social care students and apprentices, Covid-19 has provided the opportunity to step-up and take on new responsibilities. So many of our students have been reassigned to specific COVID-19 care roles where they’ve been able to put everything they’ve learnt on their course into practice, gaining valuable on-the-job experience.”

“We’re extremely proud of how well our students have adjusted at a time where emotions are running high and our NHS has been at critical level. They have quickly adapted to their newfound roles, helping to provide much needed quality care during this time of great need.”

Sophie Graham, 37 from Kibblesworth, is nearing the end of an Access to Higher Education Health course at Gateshead College before she starts a Nursing Science degree at Northumbria University in September. Currently working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, Sophie has been redeployed from her role as rehabilitation assistant to the frontline to work in critical care on the coronavirus wards.

Sophie said: “There’s only one way I’d describe my time working in critical care and that is a huge privilege. And, as far as nursing training goes, this is possibly the best introduction anyone could have, it’s a massive learning experience.

“I could never have foreseen just how soon I’d be putting the knowledge and everything I have learned at college into practice. The ‘humans against disease’ module specifically has really helped me to understand the decisions being made and treatments for coronavirus patients.

“At work, I’m learning so much too, infection control is obviously really important and being a critical care nursing assistant, I’ve had some of the best training and experience using PPE.”

For more information about Gateshead College and the courses it provides, visit

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