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Student nurse teaches life-saving skills to vulnerable youngsters

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A student nurse has told how she is putting her new skills into practice in a voluntary role helping to keep young people at risk of violent crime safe. 

Second-year adult nursing student, Munira Patel, said volunteering at StreetDoctors would make her a “better, all-rounded, nurse in the future”.

“For us student nurses, it’s a great way to start a career in trauma”

Munira Patel

Ms Patel, who studies at City, University of London, gives her time to the charity to help teach life-saving skills to young people who are at risk of violence and crime.

The scheme also aims to spark an interest in young people to enter a career in health care.

After applying for a position in the summer, Ms Patel and her nursing student friend Izzy Howles became team leaders at the charity’s North East London branch.

Ms Patel said working with StreetDoctors had reinforced what she was learning in her degree and had taught her skills needed in nursing.

“I have benefitted from doing this without a single doubt,” Ms Patel told Nursing Times.

“By being a part of StreetDoctors, I have learned leadership skills, communication skills, person-centred care, adaptability - I could go on,” she added.

This year marks the first time student nurses have been able to apply for a role at the charity.

Previously the volunteering positions were only open to medical students.

StreetDoctors told Nursing Times since trialling nursing students this year it had seen seven step up to the role and hoped more student nurses would join in the future.

Ms Patel, who leads two sessions a month, said: “With knife and gun crime on the rise, this is a new and innovative approach to keep young people safe, teach them skills and interest them in a career in health care.

“You never know when you might teach someone who will then potentially save someone’s life”

Munira Patel

“For us student nurses, it’s a great way to start a career in trauma,” she said. 

She added for that those who were interested in emergency or trauma medicine the role was a “great stepping stone for the specialties”.

All volunteers were given access to e-modules and training sessions around dealing with trauma incidents, noted Ms Patel.

StreetDoctors was founded in Liverpool in 2008 when two medical students realised the majority of 11 to 16-year-old offenders they were teaching a first-aid class to, knew someone who had been stabbed or shot or had been a victim themselves.

In 2013 it became a registered charity and now has teams across the UK with hopes to have taught a cumulative total of 10,000 young people by the end of 2018.

The charity runs two sessions - teaching what to do when someone is bleeding and what to do when someone is unconscious - using interactive techniques and props to keep the young people engaged.

During sessions, young people are walked through a stabbing scenario by using a wooden spoon to replicate a knife and blackcurrant cordial in a plastic bottle to represent a wound.

“The bottle and wooden spoon represent a stab wound so when we remove the wooden spoon the ‘blood’ (blackcurrant) starts leaking out,” Ms Patel said.

“This helps the young people to understand and visualise why we don’t remove knives or stabbing objects from the stab wound or put the stabbing object back in,” she added.

Young people are given organ cards which they use to place on a life-sized paper body, so they can learn about what different organs are for and where they are in the body.

Sessions also see participants practicing CPR and the recovery position.

At StreetDoctors, feedback is collected from the young people it teaches and research is compiled which analyses the impact and delivery of its sessions.

“If the research shows that something is not having an impact, we are not going to do it,” said Ms Patel.

“Nursing care is much more than science and it has such an important social aspect”

Munira Patel

“Luckily, our work is paying off and our statistics show that 93% of young people who have attended our sessions now understand the fatal consequences of violence,” she told Nursing Times

Ms Patel added: “93% now know what to do when someone is bleeding or unconscious and 86% agree that they would be more willing and able to act if first aid is needed.”

Speaking of the charity’s success in helping young people, Ms Patel added: “We always talk about the ‘butterfly effect’ where small movements can make big changes.

“The most rewarding thing is when you hear that there are 18 confirmed cases of young people, who have been taught a StreetDoctors session, giving someone life-saving first aid at the scene.”

She noted that the figure may even be higher, adding: “So, you never know when you might teach someone who will then potentially save someone’s life.”

To student nurses who may be considering taking up a voluntary role this one, Ms Patel said: “Don’t think twice and just go for it. It can honestly make such a difference to young people at risk of violence.

“Nursing care is much more than science and it has such an important social aspect,” she added.

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