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Two groups of bright and motivated students interested in pursuing a career in medicine and medical research recently attended the 2023 NDS Work Experience Programme.

Six work experience students standing in a hospital corridor, smiling at the camera.

Now in its seventh year, our unique work experience programme provides students who are 16 years old and over the opportunity to observe clinicians in practice and take part in hands-on activities within our different research groups, plus much more. 

12 students took part in this year’s programme, which is run separately over two weeks and is delivered by members of staff from across the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals, and the Botnar Research Centre.

The placement showcased the exciting opportunities of a career in surgery, medical sciences and healthcare, and allowed the students to explore their interests, build knowledge and an understanding of the working life of a doctor, researcher and other professions in the medical field.


Student looking down a microscope in the lab.Safety induction - Adam Lambert explained safety in the lab, followed by a demonstration in the Liquid Nitrogen Facility. 

Quality in Organ Donation (QUOD) - an afternoon learning about organ transplantation research through demonstrations and hands-on practical work with Dr Letizia Lo Faro and Dr Hannah McGivern, including biopsy retrieval, the methods used to analyse the biopsy samples and organ perfusion. 

Oncology clinics - the opportunity to speak with clinicians (including a talk with Mr Alastair Lamb about robotics), sit in on patient consultations and observe MRI scans - organised by the Surgical Research team (Jane NiedererMartin Pirkl, Shelagh Lovell and Clare Dunstan) at the Churchill Hospital. 

High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound (HIFU) - presentations followed by a HIFU device demonstration and experiment with Professor Feng Wu.

Transplantation Research Immunology Group (TRIG) - learning about the use of T cells as potential therapy post-transplant to reduce the need for immunosuppressants and then helping to design an experiment to test the effects of T cells on the suppression of white blood cells in the TRIG labs with Dr Hisashi Hashimoto and Sarah Short.

Global Surgery - Professor Chris Lavy discussed some of the challenges for patients, healthcare workers and health systems in resource-limited settings when building a hospital.  

Neurosurgery - presentation and careers chat with Mr Martin Gillies.

Science Communication - Dr McGivern ran a session on the different ways of communicating scientific ideas. 

Introduction to Clinical Trials - Jessica ScaifeAmy Taylor, Jo Cook, Tallulah Chaplain, Alice Guazzelli, Jacob FredaMonika Tlalka and Stephen Jones provided an introduction to the Surgical Intervention Trials Unit (SITU) and clinical trials, the role of the Trial Manager, and the development and running of clinical trials. Mr Gillies provided a demo on neurosurgery and guests from Engineering and Brain Dynamics showed the Picostim™ DBS device. 

Two students sitting next to and listening to the Head of the Department.Picture a Scientist - Picture a Scientist is a film which raises visibility around the critical issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in science. Conversations about these issues were facilitated by Emily Hotine, Monika Tlalka, Eleanor WilsonLouise KingNatalie Ford and Maria Granell Moreno

Oxford Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (OxAAA) Study - shadowing clinicians and nurses on the vascular ward and a tour of the OxAAA lab with Jenny Buisan and Pierfrancesco Lapolla Losasso

Ethics - Mr Gillies engaged the students in an ethical debate. 

Meeting the Head of Department - an inspiring careers chat with Professor Freddie Hamdy (pictured left).

And finally, the week ended with a feedback session, where the students gave a presentation about their time at NDS, followed by a celebration lunch. 


"This work placement has greatly enhanced my understanding of the dynamic relationship between research and the field of medicine. Previously, I believed that these two areas were distinct and incompatible, but my experience has shown me that, as a doctor, one can actively participate in ongoing research within their specialised area and contribute to clinical trials. This exposure has broadened my perspective on a career in medicine, revealing a multitude of paths to pursue. It has now become clear that, if desired, one can effectively combine the roles of a physician and researcher, opening up a world of possibilities within the medical field."

"I felt that the huge variety of research and clinical scenarios I observed was really useful, because it emphasised to me the huge scope of the medical field and the fact that career pathways in this field are not linear but multi-faceted, allowing you to explore your passions and interests."

"The week offered me lots of opportunities to ask questions and chat to people working in a medical setting. This allowed me to understand the challenges of working in a health care system that is under immense pressure currently. Additionally, being around aspirational individuals who had accomplished so much and people who really believed in you helped me to not be afraid of aiming high. I learnt that success is not an impossibility, it just requires a lot of hard work and a little passion.'

"NDS has invigorated the scientist inside me. From the physical lab coat, goggles and pipettes to the subtleties of drawing conclusions and finding ‘lesions’ on an MRI, I had never engaged so much on how mysterious and unclear science is as a whole."

"Thank you to the NDS team. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and would recommend it to anyone. I learnt so much and it was an invaluable experience to have gained!"

"Thank you so much for such an amazing opportunity! There wasn’t a single part I didn’t enjoy - it was inspiring to be around so many talented researchers and doctors and has made me incredibly excited to pursue this field in the future."


Read more on the NDS BLOG:

NDS Work Experience Programme: MY reflections on an interesting and informative week 

Bakhtawar from Glasgow in Scotland shared her reflections on the experience she had.

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

Lison from Buckinghamshire reflects on her experience of the 2023 NDS Work Experience Programme.

NDS Work Experience Team

Jane Niederer

Research Nurse

Jessica Scaife

Development Lead, NDS SITU

Jo Cook

Clinical Research Coordinator

Alice Guazzelli

Clinical Trial Manager

Monika Tlalka

Research Coordinator

Amy Taylor

Operational Lead for NDS SITU

Stephen Jones

MACRO Clinical Trial Manager

Letizia Lo Faro

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Martin Gillies

Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer

Feng Wu


Freddie Hamdy CBE

Head of Department

Alastair Lamb

Associate Professor

Emily Hotine

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager

Eleanor Wilson

Graduate Studies Administrator

Jacob Freda

Clinical Trials Assistant

Adam Lambert

Bio-repository Manager

Jenny Buisan

Research Nurse

Pierfrancesco Lapolla Losasso

DPhil student and Clinical Research Fellow

Shelagh Lovell

Research Nurse

Clare Dunstan

Healthcare Assistant

Louise King

Communications and Public Engagement Officer

Jessica Doondeea

Laboratory and Facilities Manager