The University of Southampton

Opportunity to experience life as a medic goes international after being transformed into virtual experience

An opportunity designed to give aspiring medics an insight into life at a busy acute hospital, has been transformed into a virtual experience.

This year’s LifeLab Medical School was delivered entirely online over the course of a packed two-day programme.

Due to current restrictions, students could not come 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.

But that didn’t stop the LifeLab team from delivering the experience online, enabling young people to still get a sense of what life as a doctor or medical scientist involves. With the support and involvement from the University of Southampton and UHS, the team put together the event with interactive live sessions, self-directed modules and online activities.

Participants logged on from across the globe
Participants logged on from across the globe

Along with live sessions with cardiothoracic consultant Aiman Alzetani, the attendees had the chance to speak to current medical students and chat to degree admissions specialist Professor Sally Curtis. Modules on clinical and communications skills were also delivered along with an escape-room style learning experience and virtual day-in-the-life insights with a range of researchers.

The move to a virtual experience also enabled the school be accessed internationally. More than 80 students, mainly from colleges and sixth forms, enrolled for this year’s experience and enjoyed the programme from across the world with young people logging on from Germany, Spain and Turkey as well as across the UK.

LifeLab’s Developing Talent Lead, Kate Bartlett said: “It was always going to be a challenge transforming a two-day interactive event into an online experience. It was wonderful to have the support of the University of Southampton and UHS which enabled us to come together to deliver an amazing summer school that was so well received.

“We are looking forward to learning from and building on this experience.”

The team was delighted to receive positive feedback from students who attended, one said: “I especially liked the incorporation of webinars as well as independent sessions which helped me feel more in control and felt personal, while still having interaction with experienced experts.”

LifeLab's Dr Kath Woods-Townsend facilitates and online session
LifeLab’s Dr Kath Woods-Townsend facilitates and online session

The team is now looking at developing more programmes online to improve accessibility across a range of groups and communities.

LifeLab is based at UHS and is a joint initiative of the University of Southampton Education School and Faculty of Medicine along with the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. The project offers an immersive education experience for young people to understand the science behind healthy eating messages and also supports developing talent programmes for young people in health and science training.