More than 300 Dundee University nursing students were recruited by the NHS in April as the country braced for a potential overwhelming demand for health services.
Despite originally being scheduled to graduate in November, most of the students will this week complete the required clinical hours and theory modules needed to qualify as registered practitioners.
Mental Health Nursing BSc student Lindsay O’Keeffe said her time with the NHS during the pandemic has prepared her well for a career as a nurse.
She said: “I will finish my placement in the intensive psychiatric care unit this week.
“I have gained a massive amount of confidence. This experience has shown me what being qualified and working is going to be like.
“It has pulled all my learning together and made me feel ready to take up my graduate band 5 post.
“I would just like to say a big thank you to the university for their hard work and support over the past three years.”
Over the coming weeks final checks will be carried out to get the students ready for the next board of examiners meeting on July 24, where the first tranche of students will be awarded their degrees.
The university is one of few higher education institutions in Scotland that has arranged for the early presentations.
Many of the students are ready to start jobs in August but they will remain in paid placement while they await registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
Adult Nursing BSc student, Brooklyn Bruce opted in to be a Band 4 Student Nurse during the crisis and is on a placement at Whitehills Community Hospital in Angus.
She said: “It is a brilliant hospital to work in, with an amazing team who have given me such a variety of learning opportunities.
“I have enjoyed every opportunity and experience I have been given at Whitehills and it has certainly given me the knowledge and confidence required for becoming a registered nurse.”
Professor Lynn Kilbride, dean of the School of Health Sciences at the university, said: “I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations and thanks to all of our students qualifying.
“2020 is the Year of the Nurse and Midwife and the response of these final year students to the Covid-19 pandemic has been amazing. It has highlighted the real value of our professions to the healthcare workforce and society as a whole.
“Despite all of the logistical challenges and concerns, these nurses chose to complete their studies in the clinical areas. Their attitude and performance has been a great source of pride for the University. I am delighted to know that the future of healthcare is in good hands.
“I would also like to support the students who, for various reasons, decided to not partake in earlier paid placement, as we will be relying on them highly to support our colleagues in the aftermath of the crisis. Their freshness and energy will be welcomed into the clinical area by staff, patients and clients.”