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In this blog post, Dr Hannah McGivern, a Tissue Handling Technician for the Quality in Organ Donation (QUOD) initiative at NDS, discusses her involvement in the NDS Virtual Work Experience Programme, and shares how fascinating and rewarding it was to talk with the students about a career in research.

What I'll take away from the work experience week: Try not to make any early rash decisions, keep options open, being a clinician is difficult but rewarding, and research and 'doctoring' aren't completely separate.

It has been our pleasure to be able to devise a virtual alternative to the annual Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) work experience programme which is typically hosted on-site at the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals, and the Botnar Research Centre. During the pandemic we have become increasingly, more reliant on technology for our work, including meetings (where we continually forget to unmute ourselves or are entertained by the antics of the family cat wondering across the keyboard!) as well as academic stimulation and education in order to continue our learning experience. Visits to the hospital with the chance to shadow clinicians were therefore replaced with virtual clinics, online lectures and live chats with early career researchers, doctors and surgeons, to name just a few; all with valuable advice to offer to prospective university students.

It was fascinating to hear that those who were not originally considering a career in research were now intrigued by the prospect. In fact, one of this year’s students remarked: “I am now considering a career in research with clinical practice, something I was completely opposed to at the beginning of the work experience week”. Having recently graduated with my PhD it was very rewarding to be able to show the possibilities a career in research can offer as well as the different directions it can take you in and the breadth of people you get to meet. Another of this year’s student participants commented: “This work placement has inspired me to undertake a career in clinical research alongside medicine”.

Additionally, it was also interesting to hear from other early career researchers who have all taken different paths in order to reach a particular stage of their career, demonstrating that there is no one path to follow.

The positive feedback we have received from both student participants and speakers has demonstrated the importance of maintaining wider societal communication and STEM enrichment activities during these difficult times, which encourage the next generation of clinicians and scientists to explore the opportunities available to them remotely to build a pathway to their future careers.

I would encourage as many of you as possible to participate in the online events and activities held by the NDS Outreach Working Group in the near future, who are currently in the process of developing a virtual experience for the Oxford Science and Ideas Festival (IF Oxford 2020). New ideas and opportunities are always welcome, so please do not hesitate to contact Louise King (louise.king@nds.ox.ac.uk) or myself (hannah.mcgivern@nds.ox.ac.uk) if you would like to get involved!

Blog posts

Joanna Hester shares her 'Collaboration in Action' story

Joanna Hester is an Associate Professor at NDS. In her collaboration story, Joanna shares her motivations and experiences in collaborating with various industry partners, starting from her post-doctoral days participating in EU-funded projects to her current role as a Principal Investigator.

Pulling in one direction to fundraise for the Oxford Pancreatic and Liver (OPAL) fund

Last month, a team of cyclists that included two members of NDS (Mr Alex Gordon-Weeks and Martin Pirkl) cycled coast to coast of England to raise funds for OPAL. Here, Martin tells us more.

Support Dimitrios as he runs not one, but two charity races to help beat cancer

NDS researcher Dimitrios Doultsinos is getting set to run a half marathon and a full marathon this autumn for the CRIS Cancer Foundation.

Getting race fit to support cancer research

Research Nurse Katherine (Katy) Gordon-Quayle is raising funds for Cancer Trials Ireland and the OPAL (Oxford Pancreatic and Liver) Fund by riding in a charity horse race on Pat Smullen Race Day at the Curragh in Ireland. Here she explains why she is undertaking such a momentous challenge.

The NDS work experience - where 5.30am wake ups are worth your time!

In this guest blog, Lison Lafarge from Buckinghamshire reflects on her experience of the 2023 NDS Work Experience Programme.