Masters student starts early to help those most in need

Thu, 07 May 2020 16:19:00 BST
Gillian and other staff have also been painting pictures to keep spirits high at the hospital
Gillian and other staff have also been painting pictures to keep spirits high at the hospital

A GCU Masters student is getting career defining experience as a healthcare support worker on a coronavirus hospital ward.

Occupational Therapy student Gillian Robertson was originally set to start the role later this year, however stepped up to the frontline fight early when the disease arrived in the UK.

Gillian, who’s based at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, explained: “There was a vacancy to start in November that I applied for but it wasn’t until the whole situation happened that they decided they needed me more urgently.

I thought my first shift was going to be in general surgery but when I got there everything had been cancelled and it had been transformed into a ward purely for COVID-19 patients.”

She added: “I was a bit nervous because it was something I hadn’t done before, however all the staff have been amazing at helping me settle in.

The first priority has obviously been helping care for the patients and we’ve also been trying our best to keep spirits high by painting pictures and sticking them on the windows around the hospital.”

Now in the final year of her programme at GCU, Gillian believes that the experience will stand her in good stead for the future.

She said: “I felt it would be an opportunity that would benefit me professionally. I worked in care anyway and decided that coming into a hospital would be a positive career step for me.

This role isn’t directly linked to occupational therapy, however it allows me to work directly with people - which was a big factor in me taking the job.

I just think it’s natural as a health student to want to put what you’ve learned into practice – especially in times like these.”

Gillian also admits that it was initially tricky trying to get used to wearing PPE.

She explained: “At first it was a strange experience but now there’s a feeling of it being business as usual for everyone.

I would say I’m probably more scared of bringing the disease home, rather than anything else. I make sure I clean everything manically and even use Dettol on my glasses!”

By Ross Clark

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