A key strategic aim at St George's, University of London (SGUL) is to encourage fair access to medicine and healthcare careers, regardless of social background. To ensure this we undertake programmes aimed at increasing awareness, boosting aspiration and raising attainment among students from disadvantaged backgrounds who would not otherwise consider Higher Education (HE). The students we work with are the NHS employees of tomorrow, and as such we are keen to ensure that the workforce we train is truly representative of the communities it will serve.
Our Widening Participation (WP) strategy follows a student life-cycle model, engaging with individuals at all stages of their educational development through primary and secondary schooling, further education and sixth form colleges, academic and pastoral support during HE studies, and encouragement of mature returners to formal education. We are committed to, and internationally recognised for, encouraging those from sectors of society currently under represented in HE.
Tasteofmedicine.com is an educational and engaging resource that is the flagship of our WP Strategy.
“Students regularly use this website to find out about careers in Medicine and Healthcare. They are directed to the site as part of the curriculum, both in Science and PSHE lessons, as it is relevant to both subject areas. As an e-learning tool, students find the format easy to use and the content is both informative and entertaining. It provides a fun and engaging way to access information and students particularly enjoy the interactive features of the site.”
Charles Harper, Deputy Principal and Director of Specialism at Burntwood School
- Engaging and interactive content, both video and animation
- Combining information and exploration
- Targeting and supporting hard-to-reach audiences
- Employing scenario based e-learning practices
- Dispelling myths and challenging stereotypes
- Ofering students personal and professional development
- Able to support teaching of various styles, & transferable to different markets
“Since being introduced to the interview skills and communication section of tasteofmedicine.com two weeks ago, I have managed to create a lesson around this resource which has been delivered to 245 post-16 students via PSCHE. It has been great to be able to give students the chance to watch scenarios that so closely mimic reality and are directly relevant to them, whether they are considering a future career in medicine or in another field. The question sections have also been of real value and have sparked some interesting debate amongst different PSCHE classes.”
Ellie Perkins, Director of Sixth Form, Chiswick Community School
The resource comprises four micro-sites, each targeting students at different stages of their educational development, whilst fitting into a single design brief and supporting two underpinning themes:
- All individuals should have the opportunity to apply for medical education irrespective of their social or cultural background
- All individuals should be supported in developing relevant key skills and competencies
The production team focussed on developing a suite of resources that:
- Raised the audience’s aspirations towards higher education, and interest in medicine and the allied healthcare professions
- Challenged inaccurate stereotyped views of healthcare professionals
- Supported students as they progressed through their educational development
- Helped students develop the key competency of critical reflection, set in a context of work and voluntary experience
- Allowed students to gain a better understating of the relevance and importance of communication
- Provided students with a clear and unambiguous explanation of the different approaches to teaching and learning employed in HE
Through the use of pre and post exposure questionnaires (n=789) we have been able to establish the following:
- 100% of participants identified the resource as useful and relevant
- 97.5% of participants would recommend the site to other students interested in a career in medicine or the allied healthcare professions
- 100% of participants agreed that the layout of the site was engaging and appealing
The site receives up to 700 unique visitors each day and to date has been accessed from 164 different countries worldwide. The vast majority of users are from the UK, but as a free to use resource we are delighted that its appeal has spread so far.
“This is the kind of resource that makes other learning developers green with envy! It uses the online medium in a creative and innovative way to engage with its audience on a number of levels – both cognitive and affective. It is deceptively simple in a way that draws the user in and then delivers relevant and entertaining content. The site is particularly useful for us, as we are introducing a BA in Nursing here on our campus in Auckland. Not only can our students benefit directly from the resource, but learning developers here can use it as a source of ideas to develop our own materials and to show our academic colleagues what can be done.”
Martin McMorrow, Massey University, New Zealand
A further and innovative approach to evaluation saw us link up with Lambeth Further Education College in South London to run a “London Challenge” day for sixth form students in three subject areas: biology and chemistry; health and social care; and media and communications. Staff from SGUL and from the design company Interactive Solutions ran personal and professional development seminars making use of the online resource, gathering user feedback that was subsequently incorporated into the design. We found it particularly useful to have the views not only of ‘target users’ (healthcare and science students) but of those training to become the e-learning developers of the future who were able to offer a different, yet equally valid, critique.
Development and transferability
We are currently in discussion with a number of Universities and other educational institutions in Australia, New Zealand and Canada regarding the re-purposing of the resource for other national audiences. For the UK market we are pursuing technically and socially innovative development through social networking providers, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, as well as investigating the re-purposing of the resource for use on smart phones.
Tasteofmedicine.com is a unique resource within widening access to medicine and healthcare that supports disadvantaged students in a constructive way.