The healthcare system has been under huge pressure since Covid-19.

News headlines made it seem like the potential for new recruits was on a downward trajectory, but that is not the case.

At an open day at the University of Ulster's Magee Campus, the enthusiasm from sixth formers to join the healthcare system was palpable as queues formed to find out how to join.

Students at the open day said it was a dream to care for others.

A group of students from Cookstown High School were among those attending.

Emma Dunseath, who is 17, has worked in a care home for the past year and a half and said she had really enjoyed looking after older people.

"Just recently, I've moved into the community and over the summer I've worked in the hospital setting in Antrim so I really enjoyed that and I really like the hands on side of nursing as well," she said.

"I really love caring for people and making sure that they are ok and I love putting their needs above mine and just doing whatever I can to help."

Maisy Dallas, 18, said her mother is a nurse and had contributed to her also wanting a career in healthcare.

" I've always liked seeing her caring for people and she's really compassionate - I thought that I would take it after her," Maisy said.

"I still think that everyone needs a nurse and it will be less pressure the more nurses there are.

"I think I work really well under pressure, especially working in a pharmacy."

Corday Kane, 17, who works in a nursing home, said her dad inspired her career choice.

"I've always just loved caring for people - especially working in a nursing home now," she said.

"I just love going in there and seeing all those people smile. Honestly it just warms my heart.

"My dad is a paramedic, he's inspired me to go out and care for people."

'I have no regrets'

For those already studying at university, would they recommend studying healthcare courses?

Second year student Glenn Foster is loving his career choice.

The Covid-19 pandemic helped him decide his path.

"Initially I wasn't really looking down a line of healthcare when I was in school, but during Covid and the increased demand and need on the health service, it really pushed me towards the role of a paramedic," he said.

"Absolutely no regrets, the course is challenging - but the rewards definitely show."

April Canning is in her final year of a nursing degree.

After after raising her four children and facing the pandemic, she decided to go back to study.

"My children were getting older and I decided now was the time that I could focus on my career to give my all to the course so I just decided then during the pandemic - because the pandemic opened everyone's eyes of course - so once the pandemic hit I said: 'You know what this is my time, I can do it' and I applied to come back."

April said the pressure was noticeable on her placement but it had been managed well.

"There are always instances where staff are very overwhelmed but everywhere I've been so far on the wards - they all pick up the slack where it needs to be picked up - they're an absolute credit to their profession," she said.

Andrea Shepherd, the academic lead for nursing and paramedic science at the Ulster University campus, said there would be more than 400 students who would start their nursing studies this week.

"For the majority of them there's an innate sense that they want to look after people - it's almost kind of something within them," she said.

"Nurses make up the biggest proportion of healthcare providers and I think as long as we can continue to get the right people in to the profession then the NHS is in safe hands."

Ulster University said that about 1,000 students and 80 staff were now part of the new specialist learning spaces created at its campus in Londonderry.

The health sciences - which includes physiotherapy, nursing, podiatry, diagnostic radiography and imaging are now delivered alongside the paramedic science teaching provision and the School of Medicine.

2023-09-26T05:35:39Z dg43tfdfdgfd