10/05/2024 | Press releases

Lewis’ post-pandemic pride as he pulls on student nurse lanyard

Lewis Boreham, pictured below, joined the NHS as a shy and scared 19-year-old in 2020.

A male student nurse standing in a hospital ward

He worked through the COVID-19 pandemic as a healthcare assistant. He’s now on his way to becoming a nurse.

His vital role at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) is what put him on the path to his dream career in healthcare.

When he arrived at Ipswich Hospital, the country was in the depths of the first lockdown and after a short induction, he was asked to work on a COVID-19 ward in May 2020.

Lewis, now 23, said: “That idea was terrifying. I didn’t know what to expect. At the time I was still living at home and my mum made my bed for me, then I was the one making beds and washing people.

“It was such an alien environment and I felt out of my depth to begin with. The first patient I saw with COVID-19, I froze. I was face to face with this thing that had shut down the country.”

ESNEFT’s clinical induction process was fast-tracked during the pandemic. This meant staff were able to be placed on wards as fast as possible to care for patients with the virus.

Lewis, who lives in Stowmarket, was that all important someone to many patients who were alone in hospital at the end of their lives.

“You can’t teach someone what it’s like to hold someone’s hand when they die,” he said. “I remember the first time that happened. It hits hard.

“You don’t know what they have been through before that. You think about their history, through to that point in their life. There’s a privilege in it. There’s few job roles where you get to be that person for someone.”

Working on a medical ward, Lewis has seen, through rehabilitation and therapy, as well as medical treatment, patients who get better.

“It’s a privilege to see that turnaround with people,” he said.

“You get to be part of that and more of the treatment process. Not everyone gets better but for those that do, it’s great. You get to be there for them and make people’s lives better.”

Lewis is studying for his degree in nursing at the University of Suffolk.

He is passionate about education and dementia care, having previously worked as a dementia specialist support worker. While he’s keen to specialise in the future, he already knows he would like to get into teaching.

He credits his time as a healthcare assistant with establishing “the basics” he now needs as a student nurse.

He said: “It’s helped me to focus on the more complex things because of having the basics in place already. The nurses on the ward all have advice for you too so you can benefit from their experience and knowledge.

“Working alongside the people who do the job you want to do is so helpful. The confidence I got from being a healthcare assistant helps with that. I don’t feel worried about being wrong and I’m happy to ask questions.”

“I have always wanted to do my bit and help people in any way I can. What better career to do it in than nursing. You get to be there for a real mix of people.

“All those times where I saw patients pass away, I wished I could do more. When I qualify, I will be able to do more for my patients – the more skills I develop, the more I can do. For the first time in a long time, I feel proud of myself.”

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