Aspiring medical students gain hands-on experience at NDDH

PETROC students who are keen to enter the medical profession are gaining invaluable work experience, thanks to an innovative partnership between the college and the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust.

The exciting Care Academy partnership, which is funded by Health Education South West and enables health and social care learners to experience what a career in the health professions is like, has recently expanded its provision by developing an 18-week rotational placement pathway for A-level Medics Academy students.

The programme enables Medics Academy students to shadow, in two-week blocks, consultants, doctors, senior house officers and F1 and F2 trainee doctors during their normal day-to-day rounds.


Shaun Kershaw, the Care Academy co-ordinator, and Sam Ritzen, the Medics Academy co-ordinator, have been working closely with both Sam Cockburn, an acute care common stem junior doctor at NDDH, and Gail Richards, the Trust’s engaging the young workforce lead, for the past six months to develop a real-life work placement experience for existing Medics Academy A-level students.

The rotational placements enable Medics Academy students to find out what the reality of working in medicine is like and provide them with the invaluable experience needed to stand out from the crowd when applying to medical school as part of their first steps to becoming a fully-qualified doctor.

The Care Academy initiative as a whole enables young people from both the North Devon and Mid Devon campuses to experience first-hand what it is like to work within health and social care environments at the cutting edge of service provision.

The wide range of clinical environments that learners can experience provides them with an in-depth understanding of the many career opportunities available to them and enables learners to discover and learn about the diverse nature of the health services provided in both acute and community-based healthcare settings.

The initiative also aims to provide future employment opportunities for local young people via traineeships, apprenticeships and foundation degree programmes of study.

The prestigious nature of the Care Academy falls in line with Health Education England’s national strategy targeted towards identifying local talent, developing innovative partnerships between further and higher education institutions, developing highly-skilled sustainable healthcare practitioner roles and bridging the current healthcare skills gap.

A total of 18 Petroc learners from BA (Hons) professional development (health and social care), A-levels and BTEC health and social care courses have been selected to represent both the Care Acaemy and Medics Academy.

All the learners had their first day at NDDH on Wednesday 4 November and the feedback was extremely positive.

“I really, really enjoyed today! It was so good to finally get a glimpse of the normal day-to-day workings of a hospital ward and how the various roles fit together to provide the necessary care. I have taken more notes than I would normally take in a year and have learnt a huge amount,” said A-level student Ed Taylor.

Shaun Kershaw expressed his appreciation for all of the hard work and commitment given by Trust staff.

He said: “It is such a pleasure seeing young people in North Devon being given the opportunity to work alongside healthcare practitioners and to be able to experience what it is like to work in a busy 21st century healthcare environment.

“The spirit of co-operation and collaboration which this initiative has generated is a tribute not only to the dedication and hard work of many practitioners but also to the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of learners passionate about carving out a future career in healthcare and making a real difference to the lives of those they will care for in the future.”

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Last updated: March 6, 2018