Seeing the images of healthcare workers on TV trying to save Covid patients and being on the frontlines of the pandemic has propelled many to enter nursing.

Jamie Steele, a second-year University of Suffolk nursing student, never considered a career in healthcare before looking after a loved one dying of cancer.

Two days after his grandad died, Mr Steele was put up by the jobcentre for a caring job in Hadleigh.

He was promoted to becoming a team leader and later responsible for recruiting people into the care sector over his 11 years working in healthcare.

When he saw nurses needing help to combat the pandemic, he started to feel "stuck" behind his desk.

"The pandemic had a huge effect on me," he said. "I wanted to help."

Mr Steele is not alone, a record 28,815 students in England of all ages selected a nursing course in 2021 as their first choice when applying to university.

The number of 18 year olds who choose to study nursing has increased by 38% to 7,105 since 2019, leading to a 43% increase in numbers with a confirmed place.

University of Suffolk's head of nursing and midwifery, Sam Chenery-Morris said: "Some of this rise can be attributed to greater public awareness of the importance of the professional role nurses fulfil."

These students have often been more prepared as the pandemic has brought home the realities of nursing, she claimed, which keeps them from dropping out.

The rest of UOS recorded the highest dropout rate in the country pre-pandemic, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), which has since improved, UoS has said.

Mr Steele said nursing is not without its challenges and having dyslexia and learning from home has been hard.

"It was really difficult and a struggle," he said. "I didn't know if I was going to get through it.

"The University of Suffolk were absolutely behind me and really, really great."

"Now I'm here, and I would never change it for the world."

He now hopes to enter community nursing when he graduates in 2023.

He said nursing students considering the high-stress profession should be aware it's like a "roller coaster".

There are "ups and downs", Mr Steel said, but you get used to it and start "expecting" the challenges.

"It's going to be tough and it's going to challenge you completely," he added.