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Roles reversed as lecturer taught by former nursing student on Covid ward

30/03/2021

A nursing graduate from the University of Wolverhampton put his learning to good use when his former lecturer volunteered to work at the same hospital as him. 

Leo Davis, 28 from Great Barr in Birmingham, a Staff Nurse in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust Hospital, paired up with his former lecturer, James Pearson-Jenkins, Head of Academic Innovation in the University’s College of Learning and Teaching and a registered nurse with hospital theatre experience, when he went back into practice in his spare time at the hospital during the pandemic. 

Leo started his nursing career when he studied for a Learning, Education and Progression (LEaP) course in 2014 - which offered him the opportunity to progress onto a healthcare related degree course. 

Leo was working on reception in the Oncology Department of the Birmingham Treatment Centre, City Hospital, when someone mentioned that he was really good with patients and had a good bedside manner. Although he had never considered nursing as a profession and didn’t think he had the right qualifications, he looked for a course that he could study part-time – taking the leap into a completely new career. 

After completing the LEaP course, he decided to study at the next level and graduated with a First Class degree in Nursing in 2018.  He is now studying for a Postgraduate Master’s degree in Adult Critical Care Nursing and his ambition is to progress to become a Critical Care Nurse and then eventually a Critical Care Charge Nurse. He intends to continue his learning journey by studying for an Advanced Critical Care Practitioner course at the University.  

Leo said: “I’d never thought of nursing as a career because you don’t see many men in the job, but when someone mentioned I was good with patients, I began to think about looking to progress. 

“I’m so proud of what I have achieved and I’ve really enjoyed the whole process, putting my learning into practice to get better outcomes for patients. Working during the pandemic has been extremely challenging but the team has really rallied. We know a lot more about Covid-19 now so we can provide better care. 

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw James turn up on the ward, it was a total surprise for both of us! It’s amazing that he has taken time out to come back into practice and it was even better for me to share my knowledge with him, talking him through the ventilation process which was so important when the pandemic escalated. 

“It’s been a big learning curve for me – and the Critical Care Team – but I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to work alongside James and show him how his teaching has been put into practice and is benefitting our communities. 

I had an amazing experience with the University of Wolverhampton. I was supported by everyone within the academic and placement teams and feel that this support and the passion I developed for nursing, allowed me to achieve a First in my degree 

The University offered me opportunities to practice within many disciplines of nursing. ITU was my hub placement in my final year and it allowed me to develop necessary knowledge and skills which enabled me to apply for a Band 5 post once qualifying. 

James said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact upon the local NHS workforce, particularly in ITU, where there was a sharp increase in admissions of patients with Type 1 Respiratory Failure.  ITU is one of the most complex areas of nursing, caring for some of the most vulnerable patients in the acute Trust and therefore, even with my anaesthetic experience, I was glad to see a friendly face from the University. 

I was really thrilled to meet up with Leo again as I taught him when he was starting out on his nursing career path, except this time, he was teaching me, as ITU is not my area of expertise. I’ve never felt so proud to see one of my students working at the forefront of practice within the pandemic and it really was an honour to be taught by him, a complete role reversal for me, and to work alongside him.   

“Without the LEaP course, Leo would not have been able to pursue his dream of becoming a registered nurse and it’s amazing how far he’s come. It’s an amazing achievement.” 

James and Leo both highlighted the dedication of colleagues across the NHS and care sector, noting the role played by nurses in helping to care for and protect the population; to this end, James is now working at weekends as a Band 6 Clinical Assessor and Vaccinator within Dudley and Sandwell. 

Anyone interested in studying for a Nursing qualification or Nursing Degree Apprenticeship at the University should register for one of our forthcoming Virtual Open Days. 

Pictures were taken before the Covid-19 pandemic.

ENDS 

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