14 / 12 / 2012
Healthcare scientists from the trust visit local schools, colleges and universities to talk about their careers. These visits are organised either through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET), Skills for Health or with the universities and colleges careers advice teams. The trust has a number of STEMNET Ambassadors who are trained to fulfil this requirement. STEMNET Ambassadors promote their healthcare science specialism within schools, encouraging children to consider a career in healthcare science. For more information, visit our science local community pages.
How we did it
An annual open day takes place, usually on the first Saturday of September which is aimed at school children who are invited to attend through member newsletters, letters, flyers and local radio advertisements. 200-300 children visit the hospital, usually with their parents or teachers. The open day includes a staged genetics show, run by healthcare scientists which gives the children the opportunity to have made for them DNA necklaces extracted from their own saliva. Students can also get involved in an electronic ‘find the chromosome' competition and for younger children a ‘karyotyping chromosome socks’ game. This game encourages young children to find matching pairs of socks and arrange them in size on a Velcro board demonstrating to students some of the skills needed in cytogenetic diagnosis.
The trust has also engaged with the local schools, including Archbishop Blanch School, who’s teachers, throughout the year accompany students to the hospital for healthcare science sessions.
Results and next steps
This engagement with school children has helped to raise the local profile of healthcare science careers, providing students with an opportunity to learn about the different services delivered in NHS hospitals, involving healthcare scientists and busting some of the myths.
The genetics department now regularly receives e-mails and letters from students asking for work experience placements. As a result, the department set up open day events for these students, inviting them to find out more about the laboratory through presentations and lab tours. They also provide students with an opportunity to volunteer in the lab. There are currently two volunteers on three month honorary contracts and previous volunteers have been successful in securing substantive posts in the laboratory through open competition and recruitment processes. There are intentions to continue this programme, further raising the profile of healthcare science and providing an opportunity for students to gain valuable work experience.
Liverpool Women's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is well known for its maternity and neonatal services. The trust also carries out many gynaecological and reproductive medicine procedures in addition to being specialists in clinical and laboratory genetics. Research also plays a big part in developing services that directly benefit patients. The trust understands the personal importance of selecting the right health care option, offering choice and flexibility through the provision of both NHS and private care.
Angela Douglas, Consultant Clinical Cytogeneticist firstname.lastname@example.org