Sixth Form Students ‘work experience’ visit to William Harvey Clinical Research Centre

After being welcomed to the William Harvey Heart Centre the groups were split up into four groups and visited in rotation:

1.    The Heart Monitor Lab where the work undertaken and the equipment used were explained and the students were offered the opportunity to see their own heart  

2.    William Harvey Clinical Research Centre Clinic where the work done there was explained and the strict procedures that had to be followed to ensure a proper outcome for each study.

3.    A talk on the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) explaining what it is, how TrialsConnect might help with projecys on a clinical research topic, and how it may be very useful to students when they applied for a place in their chosen University.

4.    Students interviewing Patients who were volunteers with TrialsConnect using a modified pro forma study form and obtaining the patient’s ‘Life Stories’.

Then Dr David Collier addressed the assembly at the conclusion of the visit.

The first point that struck me about the day was the sheer amount of hard work that goes into the preparatory phase of the meeting sorting out the logistics, programme and documentation to give the students an enjoyable and meaningful visit.

I had been able to help in a small way by photocopying and making up information packs for the students beforehand and I also acted as “supervisor” for student/patient interviews and was a patient interviewee myself. 

I was impressed with my two students. They were bright, asked intelligent questions and appeared genuinely interested in what they were doing. Both had definite ideas as to their educational and career aspirations and were very easy to speak to. Big respect to whoever whittled down the original 100 applicants.

I observed that my fellow patients also interacted very well with all the other students and vice-versa. I could see by the animated conversations that all appeared to be very well engaged and interested in what the other was saying.

David Collier’s talk at the end was also well received by all and the students went away happy.

At our following evaluation meeting we discussed the successes and possible areas for improvement, suggestions were made to try to improve things in further sessions. It was observed that the students were very quiet and reserved at the very beginning, before the visit proper started, but became much more relaxed and friendly as the day went on. I think it was the research centre staff and the patients who worked their magic on them. It was mooted that the early reserve may have been caused by them not being sure what was going to happen at a live clinical research centre and this may be true. It was also mentioned that during the morning session there was a general reluctance to volunteer to see their own heart! 

To finish I would just like to say that I found the day thoroughly enjoyable and I heard similar comments from all my fellow patients – even though some of them were interviewed more than once! Brave men and women all!

The students also expressed their appreciation for the day and went away happy.

I would definitely volunteer again.


One matter that I missed from my original report was my impression that the students were more interested in the patients’ personal stories than pure medical history. I think this part was important because it was a good way to start a dialogue between the participants and the full stories flowed from this. I would be interested if the other patients had this impression too.

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