Virtual work experience courses launched for local students

Guy’s and St Thomas’ have launched a free virtual work experience programme to help students in the local area to get a taste of different NHS careers.

The virtual work experience courses, funded by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, give students the opportunity to learn in their own time via a specially created, interactive online platform.

Staff from the Trust have helped to shape the content of the work experience courses, and the programme offers more than 10 hours of guided learning in up to 12 modules. The modules contain a variety of quizzes, assignments, presentations, activities, live webinars and videos with members of staff discussing their career and job role.

Madeleine NegoitaThree courses have already taken place; one on careers in pharmacy and allied health professional roles, such as podiatrists, physiotherapists, therapeutic radiographers and pharmacists, one around careers in nursing and midwifery and another on admin and clerical roles, such as medical secretaries, clerks and business managers.

Due to their success, all three of these work experience opportunities will be running again and have recently begun enrolling new students.

The programme is aimed at students in years 10-13 who live in south east London, The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or London Borough of Hillingdon. Students study in their own time and those who finish receive a certificate upon completion.

More than 1000 students have signed up to take part in one of the virtual work experience courses and there are plans for further courses throughout the year.

Madeleine Negoita (pictured), project manager for the virtual work experience programme, said: “Virtual work experience courses are an increasing trend in the wake of the pandemic when so many face to face opportunities were cancelled. Even before the pandemic, there was work to be done in order to further prepare students for working life.

“As a large employer in south east London, we want to help students who may face barriers in future employment, such as those from lower income households and those from ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented in certain roles, to gain meaningful experience, while discovering what career path might be good for them.

“We want to be bold and lead the way the NHS can reach new employees, by using innovative software to upskill and inspire hundreds of young people by delivering accessible and impactful training experiences.”

More than 340 students were given access to the nursing and midwifery work experience programme. After taking the course there was a 21% increase in students who said they were “very confident” about finding a job into the near future, with 60% of the students enrolled considering a nursing career after taking the programme.

Damiloa Sanni and Isla Baker both took the nursing and midwifery programme and have been offered face to face work experience opportunities after winning a competition as part of the course.

Damiloa, 16, from Peckham in south east London, said: “I have had the best time learning about healthcare professions with the help of Guy’s and St Thomas’. It is definitely a wonderful place to learn and grow, not just as a health professional, but as a person in general.

"I have known for a long time that I either wanted to do general adult nursing or midwifery, but now the midwifery module was so informative, it made me want to work as a midwife specifically at St Thomas’ as it seems like such a diverse atmosphere to work in.”

Isla, 17, from Greenwich in south east London, said: “I have most enjoyed the webinars as they were really interesting and it allowed me to ask questions to people that work in that career.

“I have learnt many things from this programme including the core values of being a nurse and what it is to be a nurse. We were taught the six Cs of nursing; care, compassion and competence, commitment, communication and courage.”

Each virtual work experience programme is hosted by the online platform Springpod.