The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised a group of student nurses soon to join the profession, with Kate telling them during the video call that they were "needed now more than ever".
Prince William and Kate chatted to the trainees from Ulster University on Tuesday to hear more about their experiences of studying during the pandemic, and of undertaking placements on the frontline in Northern Ireland.
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WATCH: William and Kate praise student nurses for their efforts during the pandemic
Speaking from the Queen's Sandringham home, the Duchess told them: "Nursing is one of the most trusted professions in the country, so you couldn't have chosen a better career choice and it's needed now more than ever.
"You've got almost three generations now – those coming back from retirement but also you guys doing your training who are stepping up – it shows real commitment and real teamwork, and it should really be celebrated, so really well done."
The couple spoke with nursing students from Ulster University
William said: "It's very difficult for you guys to go straight into a pandemic I would imagine, that's really baptism by fire as they say, isn’t it?"
Lisa Semerdzhieva, a Year 3 nursing student, replied: "Yes, right, although it was frightening at the start, you know, you really want to go out more.
"Now you can't wait to get back out and practise, to feel like you're helping, you know, because that’s what we were born to do really."
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The Cambridges also spoke separately with Abigail McGarvey, a first-year Adult Nursing trainee, about a video diary she created to demonstrate a typical shift during her first placement as a student nurse.
In the video diary shared on Kensington Palace's social media accounts on Tuesday, Abigail can be seen getting up for a night shift, travelling to work and putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) of a mask, apron, gloves and visor. She later puts on higher-grade protection for working with COVID-19 positive patients.
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William and Kate spoke to first-year student Abigail McGarvey
William asked if training in a pandemic had changed her thoughts on becoming a nurse, and Abigail said: "It has really confirmed that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life – this is the job I was meant to do."
She added the pandemic meant families were not able to visit and support their loved ones so "you have to give them so much more".
Ranked in the top 50 nursing schools in the world, Ulster University’s School of Nursing is one of the largest programmes at Ulster University, with approximately 1600 students registered in the school.
At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, students were asked to join the front line. Student placements were adapted to meet the needs and demands of the health service, with the majority of students being placed in COVID-19 areas in both hospital and community settings.
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