COVID-19 FAQs from nursing and midwifery students
We’ve answered your most frequently asked questions during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Do I have to go on placement at this time? What happens if I am not comfortable or cannot attend placement at this time, and on what grounds can I do this?
Generally, you can defer a clinical placement however, the process to defer and how this affects your progression will depend on your education provider. It is important to remember that clinical placements are key to the readiness of graduates to enter the workforce and a requirement for both course completion and registration. It should also be noted that placements are complex to arrange and with increased cancellations and availability of placements during this pandemic, declining a placement that is offered to you may delay the completion date of your course.
High risk students, those considered to be vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19 due to chronic conditions, are strongly advised not to attend placement and to discuss their particular circumstances with their education provider. This is consistent with at risk health workers being encouraged to take leave or being redeployed to lower risk areas.
Make up placements will be made available, as and when it is deemed both appropriate and possible; however priority will be given to those that have had their placement cancelled by the Education provider or Health Facility, or those that cannot attend placement as they fall into the High risk category.
Should you need to decline your clinical placement for any other reason, you are strongly encouraged to discuss this with your education provider to understand the effect this might have on your course completion timeline and if any considerations are available to you.
The NSWNMA will continue to engage in discussions with key stakeholders with respect to student placements and updates will be provided as they arise.
I am a parent/carer for an at-risk child or member of my family – what happens if I cannot accept my placement?
As mentioned above, you can decline your placement and you should discuss this with your education provider for advice as to how to go about this and the expected impacts this might have to your course completion.
I am a single parent and due to isolation can no longer rely on grandparents to assist with childcare to enable me to go on placement – what provisions are there for me?
You should discuss your circumstances with your education provider to work through what adjustments can be reasonably expected. If you need assistance with this process, you can contact the NSWNMA for advice.
My placement is interstate or rural and I am concerned about attending should lockdowns escalate, and I am unable to return home – what guidance can you give?
Many education providers have cancelled interstate and rural placements and will be looking to provide alternative options. It is important to remember that such placements would have been arranged months in advance and those that have been allocated over recent weeks may not have been changed due to the time frame.
If attending an interstate or rural placement, there should be provisions in place to enable you to return home and you should discuss these with your education provider. If further clarification is needed, you can contact the NSWNMA for advice.
What happens if I get COVID-19 while on clinical placement as a result of being exposed in the workplace?
Under Safe Work Australia the health facility to which you are assigned has a legal obligation for the provision of a safe workplace e.g. provision of appropriate PPE. However, as you are not a paid employee of the facility you would not be eligible for WorkCover, which is a compulsory workplace insurance that covers all Australian employees, providing protection against workplace-related injuries or illnesses.
Your Education provider will however have insurance policies in place that cover students whilst on clinical placement as part of their course program. Ask your education provider to provide clarification and a copy of the insurance policy to understand what you are covered for. If you need assistance in understanding this document, you can contact the NSWNMA to review the policy with you.
Are students eligible to access the NSW Government’s pledge to provide housing for frontline workers whilst on placement?
Risks for students are being minimised while on clinical placement and so, priority for access to housing is in all cases being given to high risk frontline workers. If as a student you are allocated to a high risk COVID-19 ward, please contact the NSWNMA for advice.