BMSC Outreach Programme: Inspiring the NHS staff of the future

Following a successful pilot, UH Bristol is now fully funding the Bristol medical simulation centre outreach programme, bringing life to NHS career opportunities to school children across the city.

Since its launch in June 2018, the outreach programme has worked with over 3,500 students aged between 8 and 18, providing a range of hands-on learning and insight into the opportunities a career in the NHS has to offer. The programme was initially funded by Health Education England as a year-long pilot and continues to be a success. Activities offered include sessions with students at the simulation centre or directly in schools, tying in with the curriculum and bringing science lessons to life.

In May 2019, in partnership with South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust and UH Bristol staff, the team visited Bristol Brunel Academy where they spent the day with over 200 year seven students, taking them through the patient journey from a road traffic accident scenario, and the clinical and non-clinical roles involved.

Laura Harrison, community outreach simulation coordinator, said: “I remember when I was at school asking ‘why do I need to know this?’. As a nurse, I use so much of what I learnt in maths and science every day. If the curriculum had helped me make that link at the time, I may have considered a job in nursing far earlier.

“Outreach programmes can have a positive impact on a young person’s confidence and help to raise their aspirations to think about career options they might not have previously considered.

“The sessions focus on practical elements of working in the NHS and also on the importance of interpersonal skills such as communication, team work and prioritisation.

“We are the largest employer in the city and we should continue to work closely with our community. This is just one way we can reach out to young people and their families and help them get more involved with our hospitals.” Laura added.

“There is evidence that outreach programmes have a positive impact on young peoples’ confidence to raise their aspirations and to think about careers options they may not have considered. Programmes like these can make the link between what young people are learning at school and their steps towards potential careers.

”Outreach work forms a core part of the Trust’s education strategy and we are committed to raising awareness of health careers and providing supportive training pathways for local communities. The programme team works closely with the apprenticeship and work experience teams, and some students have chosen to become members of the Youth Involvement Group or volunteers in our hospitals.

As the project moves forward, the team aims to establish stronger connections with local schools and youth groups in both Bristol and Weston. Peer-led training sessions are also being developed, with older students running activities for younger children.

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