Student nurses will leave Ireland once they graduate as a result of the “horrific treatment” by the Irish Government, according to a student nurse who has worked on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The issues facing student nurses have come to the fore in recent months, with calls for financial and educational supports for nursing students growing.
Those issues include not receiving payment for placements, and trying to balance educational commitments and part-time jobs on top of this, all while providing crucial support in the Covid-19 response.
While some additional supports have been put in place by Government, one nurse, speaking on condition of anonymity, said nurses have become "cynical" about working long-term in Ireland after their experiences in recent months.
“Students are having to work without being paid in a pandemic where they could catch and spread a disease; they’re working weekend jobs to bring in money to afford food and rent; and they’re having to complete assignments, study and learning outcomes,” he said.
The nurse said there was little talk among his classmates of working in Ireland after they graduate, with many already looking at overseas alternatives.
“Ireland is not a welcoming place for nursing students," he said.
“We’re graduating nurses here that are extremely cynical of the HSE. We say that it’s not clinical placement, it’s cynical placement.
“I want to be able to afford to live in Ireland, not just survive here. A lot of nurses are struggling to do that."
He criticised Health Minister Stephen Donnelly for not providing enough support to keep nurses in Ireland.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said Mr Donnelly “acknowledges and is grateful for the commitment demonstrated by nursing and midwifery students in continuing with their education including clinical placements during this difficult time”.
The spokesperson also stated that, since the onset of the pandemic, the department has “engaged extensively” with representative student groups, and that additional supports have been put in place by the HSE, department and wider government to provide financial and educational assistance for students.
The spokesperson also said it continues to engage with unions on the implementation of the recommendations of the Collins Report, including the €100 per week Pandemic Placement Grant, and agreement on the commencement of a longer-term review of current clinical placement allowances and internship pay.