The two-week progamme – which runs throughout the year – is designed for A level students who want to follow a career in healthcare, as Matron of Stroud General Hospital, Kay Haughton, explained: “Demand for work experience is high and we get many requests every year. We wanted to find a way to encourage young people to learn about the many exciting career opportunities in community health, and see first-hand how teams work together across different clinical disciplines – always with patient care at the heart of what we do. By focusing on students who want to study medicine, go into nursing or into another specialist area of healthcare, we have been able to create a work experience programme that gives students the chance to carry out simple tasks where it’s appropriate, as well as learn about different clinical departments. We want to open their minds to the fantastic work going on in their local community hospital.”
Students are selected for interview on completion of an application form, as programme co-ordinator Kate Turner explained: “We’re looking for young people who show the commitment, talent and maturity to be able to work in different departments across the hospital. It’s as much about their interpersonal skills and having the confidence to communicate with staff and patients, as it is about their school performance. We try to be flexible and create a timetable of bite-size sessions in different clinical departments to suit the young person and their interests.”
Former Stroud High School pupil Natacha Humphreys, who is in her second year of A levels at Pates Grammar School and applying to study medicine, completed the work experience programme recently: “It was really well organised with a planned timetable so that I knew what to expect for the two weeks and I was made to feel very welcome. I’ve had some work experience at Gloucester Hospital, so it was really interesting to see the difference between an acute hospital and a smaller community hospital. I was able to shadow staff in many different departments including audiology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy – there are clinics for everything at Stroud! – and learn about the work of the surgical ward. It was really noticeable how friendly everyone was, and I was always introduced to patients to make sure they were happy for me to be there. What surprised me most was how much time staff gave to me, and I am really grateful for the opportunity to see first-hand how a community hospital works.”
Matron Kay Haughton added: “This is a whole-team effort and the response from our staff has been fantastic in welcoming work experience students. We’ve had some wonderful young people through so far, and look forward to building on the success of the programme.”
Students will be encouraged to join the hospital’s new volunteer scheme which is being launched soon. The volunteer scheme is designed to increase opportunities for people of all ages to help on the wards with non-clinical activities, such as shared reading or taking patients to the day room, to enhance patients’ stay and their wellbeing.
Photo: left to right, Kate Turner, matron Kay Haughton, student Natacha Humphreys