Date of release: 23 June 2020
As we continue to adapt to the ‘new normal’ this week I’d like to bring your attention to the return of our international nurses, who have had an unusual experience to treasure by ‘treading the boards’!
We welcomed our 32 international nurses back to Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) bootcamp. The COVID-19 crisis meant they had to be redeployed after the test centres closed within weeks of them arriving in the UK. Little did they know their first week back would be in a venue we had never taught in and they had not experienced since arriving in the UK.
We were honoured to have Adrian Jackson, the Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Grand Theatre, offer the Trust use of the theatre while it is closed for shows – or in showbusiness terms, ‘in the dark’. Bringing the 32 nurses back together into their cohort and having a new candidate joining the group was going to be a challenge in view of the important social distancing measures. However, having access to a venue seating 1,200 people quickly removed this obstacle. The opportunity to teach in such an amazing setting was a privilege to the programme facilitators and something which had never been done before. This also allowed our nurses to experience one of our city’s oldest buildings and the beauty it has within.
Our nurses were amazed by the theatre with many saying they found the setting inspiring and we were overwhelmed by the warm welcome and support everyone received from the staff who had volunteered to help each day. The theatre allowed us to unite our nurses and restart their OSCE journey which had paused. Our staff were welcomed by the OSCE team and Adrian started the week by sharing the story of the theatre with the group and it was amazing to hear the history that lies behind its doors.
The awe of the setting clearly inspired the nurses as we discovered many have talents that belonged in the theatre. The group were quiet to begin with, which is understandable, so the OSCE team thought ‘let’s use music to welcome everyone each morning’. The following days saw the violin, guitar, keyboard and singing brought to the stage and this also created some atmosphere and gave something back to the volunteers, many of whom said how great it was to hear music and song back in the theatre and that it felt alive again. Our nurses have entered the theatre archives and are now fondly called ‘The Grand Theatre Nurses’ - the first in the history of the theatre.
The OSCE is the second part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) test of competence for internationally trained nurses. Prior to arrival in the UK our international nurses have already completed their English language test (either International English Language Test or the Occupational English Test) and their NMC part one test of competence which is the NMC Computer Based Test (CBT). The OSCE examination is the final part of our international nurses’ journey in gaining their UK nurse registration, which takes up to two years to the point of gaining NMC registration. Our nurses have shown great courage and commitment while working clinically in what has been a challenging time in healthcare without all the usual obstacles of relocating to another country and the worries COVID-19 has brought to everyone.
Once the week was well underway, we wanted to acknowledge our nurses for their hard work and commitment despite their OSCE plan changing thanks to COVID-19. Yvonne Higgins, the Trust’s Deputy Chief Nurse, joined us in thanking our nurses, gave recognition to the challenges the past weeks have brought and wished them well on the remainder of their NMC journey.
While our nurses’ time at the Grand Theatre may have ended and test centres remain closed, their OSCE journey continues. They will now complete their practical assessments at our training facility for the next three weeks before returning to clinical areas, while waiting for test centres to reopen. They will continue to flourish, grow, learn and implement the theory they have learnt and transition into UK nursing practice. They will continue to receive support and guidance from the OSCE team, their managers and colleagues.