Robert Gordon University (RGU) is leading a Scottish Government funded rapid coronavirus research project to support the country’s health and social care students who are transitioning into professional practice early in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research will gain critical insights from early-entrance students and graduates from across all of the health and social care disciplines represented at RGU to develop appropriate support for rapidly transitioning staff. It will also investigate coping strategies for those early entrants where extreme pressure on workloads, blurring of traditional role boundaries and social distancing measures will impact on their experiences.
RGU is well placed to carry out this research, as many of its health and social care students from Nursing and Midwifery, Allied Health Professions, Pharmacy and Social Care boldly chose to enter the workforce early. The university has a history of providing critical employees to NHS Grampian and is the largest provider of graduates to its workforce. It also delivers training programmes and research for NHS Grampian which significantly contribute to developing its staff, and patient services.
The principal investigator for the study, Dr Flora Douglas, said: "The resilience of health and social care staff is critical for both now and beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic. This study will yield important learning that will help health and social care services develop appropriate support for their staff, and inform future undergraduate and postgraduate education programmes in the health and social care professions to support pandemic planning, service delivery, and individual resilience building."
The Scottish Government's Rapid Research in COVID-19 funding call distributed almost £5 million to 15 universities and research institutions in Scotland that will contribute to the global efforts of combatting the virus and its wider effects.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Scotland is home to some of the most respected researchers and scientists in the world. COVID-19 is the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes, and it is vital that we capture the potential of the extraordinarily strong research base here to contribute to the global efforts to tackle and mitigate the impact of it.
“I know many academics are already thinking about how their research can be used during this national and international emergency. This funding enables universities and research institutions to immediately draw on the very best science and methodologies available to build on our understanding of this virus, develop new treatments, stop infection and support people’s mental and physical health.”
RGU's Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Harper, said: "At a time when we are witnessing a significant number of our students entering the workforce early while managing the completion of their studies and supporting the effort to tackle Covid-19, it is vitally important we learn lessons not just for the here and now but for any future pandemics.
"Supporting mental health and resilience is essential and this project will offer valuable insights into how we can best do this for our students and graduates, enabling them to be effective members of the health and social care workforce who are resilient, flexible and innovative."