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The University of Southampton

Southampton teens look to future NHS careers by trailing medical students at city hospital

Published: 11 October 2023
School pupils with medical students
School students look to future NHS careers at Southampton hospital

Teenagers in Hampshire have experienced life as doctors on the hospital frontlines as part of drive to develop a new generation of healthcare professionals.

The initiative was organised by the University of Southampton through its Experience Medicine with LifeLab programme.

It saw students enroll onto a two-day school at University Hospital Southampton to experiment with clinical skills, including suturing and taking blood.

Secondary school groups from Bitterne Park School and Redbridge Community College, alongside others from the UK and Europe, also experienced anatomy teaching in labs to understand how to treat patients.

Dr Kath Woods-Townsend, programme manager for Experience Medicine with LifeLab, said: “We know there is a shortage of NHS doctors, and we also know that young people don’t necessarily get the opportunities to gain work experience in healthcare, particularly under 16.

“It is vital to give young people the chance to experience what studying to be a doctor is like before they make their A-level choices. We are motivated to increase the number of doctors in the NHS and we do not want young people to feel that there are barriers to their success.”

LifeLab was created by the University of Southampton in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Hospital.

Since its inception in 2008, as many as 98 schools have participated in its activities, more than 14,000 students have visited the Lab and 745 students have gone on to experience further opportunities through work experience.

Claire Spencer, a parent of a year nine student enrolled on the summer school, said: “My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the two days. She now feels like becoming a doctor is a real possibility for her. Having come from a single-parent background and studied at a state school, she believed she did not fit the bill of a medical student, but this experience has proved her wrong.”

Developing talent lead Kate Bartlett from LifeLab said: “The students practiced basic lifesaving skills and thanks to the generosity of NHS colleagues were able to tour the hospital’s acute medical unit and research facilities. The experience concluded with lectures on the future of surgery and the use of robotics.”


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