The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke with nursing students in Northern Ireland in a special video call

By Simon Perry
February 10, 2021 05:00 PM
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Kate Middleton and Prince William talk to trainee nurses
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Kate Middleton and Prince William are championing nurses-in-training who have found themselves on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The royal couple spoke to a group of nursing students from Ulster University in Northern Ireland during a series of video calls on Tuesday.

The inspirational story of Abigail McGarvey, who made a video diary of a typical shift for a first-year training nurse and posted it on TikTok, was a central part of their first call.

Kate and William talk to Abigail McGarvey
| Credit: Kensington Palace

In her one-minute, 17-second video, McGarvey shows herself getting ready for the night shift after waking up at 5.30 p.m. She then heads to the hospital, gets into her personal protection uniform and shows what her shift is like during the pandemic.

She told William and Kate about some of the challenges she faces and the emotional difficulties for patients who aren't able to receive visitors while they're being cared for. McGarvey, who started her course at Ulster University during the pandemic, also spoke about how hard it is to socialize with her new friends.

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"Caring for people puts me as a student nurse in a very privileged position as many of these people are extremely vulnerable," she said. "In providing person-centered care we often form close relationships with patients and watching them becoming ill and perhaps dying means we have to develop the resilience to cope with that."

McGarvey added that they are "supported by nurses  . . . who act as role models" and she is "so grateful for the experiences" during this placement and is exciting to see where she heads next.

"Starting nursing training during a pandemic is never ideal, but I've been so well supported and I'm so thankful," she continued.

Kate Middleton and Prince William talk to student nurses
| Credit: Kensington Palace

The royal couple then had a call with a group of second and third-year students who showed how they participated in clinical sessions at the University's Magee Campus in Derry/Londonderry.

Across all of Ulster University's nursing training courses, students were asked to join the frontlines once the pandemic took hold last March, and their placements were adapted to meet the needs and demands of the health service. The majority of students are being placed in COVID-19 areas in both hospitals and community settings. The university says that many have chosen to extend their placements in order to continue to support the frontline workforce.

Kate, 39, has been patron of the Nursing Now initiative, which aims to raise the profile of nurses globally, since 2018.