When we celebrated the new year, none of us could have anticipated the events about to unfold. 2020 was the year our cohort had been awaiting; dissertation, management placement, and finally planning for our long-awaited graduation; that would see us get that precious NMC PIN. Everything planned suddenly fell away. We faced a whole new world, and routines and familiar faces suddenly disappeared.
Coronavirus turned everyone's world upside down. Our extended networks shrunk overnight, and many students faced an extended lockdown at home, either through shielding, caring for children, vulnerable loved ones, or a combination of complex factors. University closed, and students had to choose whether to opt-in or out of paid placements. The world got smaller for those opting out. Life became worrying and a journey into the unknown for those opting in.
A unique aspect of being a learning disability nursing student is the bond you form with your fellow students. We share the same common goal of inclusion without exception, which ties us together with our overarching need to make a difference. That ethos has seen students reach out to each other, and make sure we all stay connected when we’ve needed it the most.
Something amazing has emerged from the crisis. The friendships made and sustained through the course has moved to online spaces, where we've stayed connected. It's been a challenging time with dissertations to complete, as well as paid placements for those opting in, and potential isolation for those opting out. How passionately we've cheered on and supported each other, is a true testament to the insight and empathy we as future nurses have demonstrated.
Online social media has been precious in staying connected. We've met for virtual 'uni breakfasts', to replace the ones we would have, on campus. We've met each other’s pets and children through shared group calls. We've also given each other tips on baking and evening meals, compared photos of daily exercise and have even shared the occasional ‘TikTok’ dance. Lifting each other when we've faced challenging times, and rallying to support those who needed that extra push, when inertia set in.
The bond between student nurses has stayed strong throughout this difficult time. Although the current crisis is infinite, the friendships and connections we've made through these past few months will have a lasting impact on us all.
Emma Rapier, a final-year learning disabilities nursing student on Friendship, Connections and Quarantine.