The University of Southampton

Latest Blog: LifeLab’s Summer School goes global

From improving communication skills to gaining an insight into what life is really like as a medic, young people who took part in LifeLab’s Virtual Summer School 2021 have been telling us how much they valued the event.

After last year’s successful transfer of delivering the experience online, the team once again devised a virtual two-day programme aimed at students in years 9-13 considering a career in medicine.

Historically, students came into University Hospital Southampton for the experience where they would normally be involved in a series of hands-on workshops and tutorials along with shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals.

With the on-going uncertainty around in-person events, and in light of how successful last year’s event was, the LifeLab team once again hosted the experience virtually with a series of interactive and self-directed modules, tasks and discussion sessions, covering a host of subjects related to working in medicine.

Support from the Widening Participation and Social Mobility team at the University meant that there was a team of 10 fabulous student ambassadors from the Faculty of Medicine, who acted as mentors to the younger students over the two days.

LifeLab's online summer school was accessed by students across the world
LifeLab’s online summer school was accessed by students across the world

Like last year, the move to a virtual experience also enabled the summer school to be accessed internationally. More than 85 students enjoyed the programme from across the UK and Europe and as far afield as Canada, Malaysia and China.

At the end of the event, students were asked to give their feedback, which was overwhelmingly positive.

Students commented:

“The chance to speak to doctors taught me about both the advantages and disadvantages to studying medicine because everyone was really honest about their experiences. No one pretended that being a doctor wasn’t a job that is both mentally and physically hard, but they also spoke so passionately about how rewarding their job is, which gave me a great insight into the realities of medicine.”


“I’ve definitely gained a deeper understanding into what it actually takes to be a good doctor, especially from the word cloud, for example compassion, communication and empathy. This has encouraged me to take part in activities which help me build these skills even more, for example volunteering for the local charity shop!”


“I’ve learnt that teamwork is very key, almost every speaker in the speed networking talked about how they work with a variety of different healthcare professionals, this was further reiterated in the trauma simulation where the emergency response teams worked together and updated each other during the simulation, linking to how communication is also a very important key skill.”


Students also appreciated the opportunity to take part, recognising the challenges that young people have had this year in gaining work experience:


“With the lack of work experiences available, this was extremely helpful to me and I honestly learn so so much! :)”


Another added: “Had it not been online I wouldn’t have been able to be part of this invaluable experience.”

Parents were also asked for their reflections on the programme:

“I think it has made her more motivated to study medicine.”

“The summer school has definitely made her more excited about the possibility of medicine as well as more eager to follow through with it.”

“Thank you so much for this opportunity for my daughter, especially in this time when it is so hard for students to get any kind of work experience, it is invaluable”

The team aims to build on the virtual summer school with more virtual events planned. For more details keep an eye on our social media accounts >>> link<<< or email to be kept informed about future opportunities.