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Work Experience (Student Placements) FAQs

FAQ: Student Placements

We have been approached by a student who attends the local Grammar School and wishes to take up medicine as a career with a request to undertake work experience at our practice. Can we do this or is a student who is still at school, considered to be too young to understand and comply with the requirements of a confidential environment?

Each year as the school year draws to a close we receive a flurry of enquiries from practices that have been approached by schools or school aged students with aspirations of working as doctors, or in other roles in the NHS, asking to be considered for work experience. Practices are rightly cautious about the prospect of inviting young students into a confidential environment that may well require maturity beyond their years. However, early experiences are important in determining careers – how many doctors today were influenced by childhood illnesses that brought them into contact with those that cared for them?

We have put together some ideas on how practices that might wish to accommodate a schoolaged student might most effectively provide an insight into their work, whilst minimising risk.

  • Always work with a scheme organised by a school and liaise with the teacher designated to run the scheme.
  • Do not be tempted to organise your own scheme with an individual student.
  • Speak at length with the designated teacher about the confidential environment that the student will be entering. Specify the practice’s requirement of any student, which should include the ability to demonstrate a mature attitude to maintaining confidentiality and the fact that they should not live within the practice’s catchment area.
  • One individual within the practice should be responsible for overseeing the student’s work experience programme and for monitoring that it is carried out satisfactorily.
  • Agree a work programme for the duration with the designated teacher to specifically exclude exposure to clinical work e.g. sitting in on consultations etc.
  • Confine the student’s experience to administrative roles and work within the practice (a great deal about a doctor or nurse’s work can be gleaned from observing and learning about the underpinning systems of a practice.)
  • Include access to dialogue with the clinicians of the practice and target areas of interest.
  • Spend time with the student at the outset of the programme explaining the nature of the work undertaken in a General Practice setting and the importance of and consequences of breaking confidentiality.
  • Insist that a confidentiality clause is included in any agreement signed with the school’s scheme.

Please see the BMA website for further advice and guidance on work experience


Updated on Wednesday, 3 February 2016, 1099 views

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