TAFE Queensland student nurses are currently on the frontline to aid health service staff during the COVID-19 crisis.

For 18-year-old Hollie Velings, it meant her placement at Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) quickly progressed to allow her to help fight the global pandemic.

“I felt extremely honoured and privileged to be in a position where I was skilled enough to be able to help fight on the frontline,” said the Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115) student.

“This is what we as nurses have been preparing ourselves for forever. This is part of why I wanted to become a nurse.”

Hollie was one week into her work experience placement in the immunology ward at GCUH, where she provided care for patients with infectious disease, when the outbreak reached the Gold Coast.

“As COVID-19 progressed, the decision was made to move the ward I was working on to a different location so we could be more equipped to provide care for incoming COVID-19 positive patients,” said Hollie.

“With this move, I helped pack up the ward, organise and transfer existing patients to a different location, and set up the new ward to be fit for infected COVID-19 patients.”

The Biggera Waters resident said she always hoped to be able to one day use her skills to help in a health crisis such as this.

“I wanted to experience something like this in my career as a nurse, but never expected it to be this soon and on the frontline as a student.”

Being in the final stages of her studies to become an enrolled nurse, Hollie said the experience has defined her career direction upon graduation.

“I have taken away a lot of knowledge about the importance of infection control policies and supporting fellow nurses in such a difficult time – it's made me realise this is the area of work I want to pursue,” she said.

TAFE Queensland Director of Faculty for Health on the Gold Coast, Deb Blow said many nursing students out on clinical placement have reported excellent feedback during their experience.

“We are continually checking in with our students to ensure they are emotionally coping during this unprecedented time and we’ve had a great response in regards to the positive contribution they are making by assisting in very meaningful ways,” said Deb.

“I have been a registered nurse for over 35 years but have never experienced anything like this; our student nurses will gain experience in nursing that is once in a lifetime.”

Deb said it was wonderful to see TAFE Queensland student nurses embracing the opportunity and choosing to support front line staff who are working tirelessly.

“I am so very proud of our student nurses; this pandemic will certainly consolidate their desire to be on the front line caring for our community.”

Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman congratulated Hollie on her hard work caring for the health of Queenslanders.

“Our healthcare and frontline workers are doing an incredible job during the COVID-19 crisis,” Ms Fentiman said.

“It’s fantastic to see our highly skilled nursing students are playing a valuable role in keeping Queenslanders safe.”

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