Crash course for healthcare returners

If there’s one characteristic typical for nurses, it’s their ‘roll up the sleeves’ mentality. Which is why teachers from the nursing programme immediately started getting the wheels turning when the coronavirus reached the Netherlands. “Sitting at home while colleagues are running around is not something that comes naturally to us,” confirms teacher Hans van Buren. He and his colleagues are behind the project Nurse Force, setting up various initiatives to help their colleagues in the healthcare sector where possible.

Spoedcursus voor herintreders in de zorg

Despite it being a case of all hands on deck in the healthcare sector, Nursing teacher Hans van Buren saw how his interns were ending up sitting at home. “The huge work pressure in hospitals and home care organisations meant that there was no guarantee of adequate supervision for our students,” he explains. “This meant internships were being stopped and students were suddenly stuck at home. Such a shame when, particularly now, they could actually do so much. What’s more, it means delays in study duration so fourth-year students won’t be able to graduate – and yet they’ll soon be badly needed. So we started brainstorming a solution with the Frisian healthcare institutions and our colleagues at the regional training centres Friesland College and Friese Poort.”

The solution was found in the shape of a corona centre in Drachten, a place for patients that don’t need complex care. “The patients might be infected with corona but recovering, or they could be recovering from an operation,” explains Hans. “It’s the perfect target group for our third and fourth-year students who are more than capable of providing the necessary care. As teachers, we supervise the workfloor, but more importantly, we offer a sympathetic ear to students who hear emotional stories from patients – because those stories will be there. The plan has been drawn up, but it’s not yet clear when we’ll start. It all depends of course on when the healthcare sector needs the help. But we’re ready and waiting.”

One of the teachers soon to be working in the corona centre is Eeke Dankert. She swapped her job in home care last September for a future teaching Nursing. But less than six months after her career change and Eeke’s back on the workfloor. “I’m a doer, a go-getter that can’t just sit at home. Especially not now when help is needed so badly. Fortunately, I’m still on the BIG register so I’ll also be able to carry out nursing interventions myself. Together with the students, we’re a fantastic team that can help relieve the workload of our colleagues in the hospitals. What’s more, it’s the perfect way for our students to still be able to do their internship and prevent delays in their studies.

A delay in her study is the last thing fourth-year student Jet Velzeboer needs right now. Her graduation ceremony was due to take place exactly one week before she is due to have her second baby. “I was really looking forward to doing my final internship at a child healthcare centre, but it got postponed because of the coronavirus. That really threw my planning off track and I can’t see myself doing my final internship while I have a baby at home. Which is why I’m really happy with the Nurse Force project. It means I’ll be able to finish my studies on time and means I can help at a time when it’s needed so badly. As a future nurse, you really don’t want to sit and watch, unable to do anything. This is going to be a final internship to remember.”