Class of 2020: Ijeoma Okolo

We’re so proud of our class of 2020. They've overcome enormous challenges to graduate, but at the same time they've been determined to make a difference - helping others, grasping opportunities to develop their skills and showing their Essex Spirit in so many different ways. Now we're taking the chance to celebrate their achievements.

  • Date

    Wed 22 Jul 20

Ijeoma Okolo, photographed in black and white, wearing a lace-sleeved top

Coronavirus has turned lives upside down around the world but it has also given Ijeoma Okolo, who is graduating with an MSc Adult Nursing, a unique learning experience that will stay with her forever.

Ijeoma is one of a number of final-year Essex students who decided to sign up to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s opportunity to take a paid, extended placement fighting Covid on the frontline.

She is working in the emergency department at a hospital in the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

“Going into placement at this time was challenging because unlike our typical placement, this was not going to be an opportunity to be taught, we are there to be an extra helping hand,” she said.

It’s been a challenging but rewarding experience: “Protecting my family whilst ensuring I qualify is emotionally, mentally and physically tasking. However, the team I work with have made my learning enjoyable and were easy to talk to, so I am navigating through this placement with a lot of support.”

Ijeoma, who has written about her decision to support the NHS response to the pandemic in the Nursing Standard, has this advice for future students choosing to study nursing: “Be an advocate for your patients when you are out there in placement, use your intuition and always remember that nursing instinct and intuition are rare but very valuable.

“Be the change you want to see happen and make an impact in someone's life, it does not have to be something so huge, a smile could be that impact. Most importantly, take care of yourself, because you cannot look after your patients if you are not sound.”