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CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex Research Delivery Team encouraging school students to consider a career in health and care research

Members of the CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex (CRN KSS) Research Delivery Team spoke to over 100 Kent and Medway secondary school students about health and care research and careers in research at a recent medical fayre.

The medical fayre was organised by Professor Rahul Kanegaonkar, CRN KSS Innovation Champion, and held at Canterbury Christ Church University’s Medway Campus. “This is the third time this medical fayre has taken place for year 9 and 10 secondary school students in Kent and Medway. Medway is an area of deprivation and school students from this area do not necessarily have the same opportunities as others to be taught by medical professionals about biological systems. The fayre is also an opportunity for the students to learn about different careers in the medical profession at a developmental stage in their schooling.”

Emma Barbon, Research Delivery Team Leader, said: “It was an opportunity for us to engage and raise awareness of research in this age group and bring research to the attention of those medical representatives participating in the event.”

Students and teachers rotated among a number of stations which all had a different medical theme - accident and emergency; the respiratory tract; CPR; surgical simulation; the eye; stem cell technology; radiology; the heart; the ear; and medical research. Each station had its own public health message, for example, warning about the dangers of smoking and drug taking.

The Research Delivery Team’s session was interactive and gave the students a wealth of information about research, including the history of health research, examples of where research was conducted unethically in the distant past.

They then described how now research is conducted ethically and also governed to ensure the safety of the participant while being on a clinical trial, especially after the introduction of Good Clinical Practice (GCP). The team also taught the students about informed consent and how important it is to give participants information to help them make an informed decision about taking part in research.

The students were then asked to stand and were taken through a mock consent process based on a hypothetical study. The team read out lines from a mock patient information sheet and the pupils were asked to sit down if at any point they would not have agreed to take part in the hypothetical study. The last students standing then rolled a die to determine whether they would be randomised to receive the study treatment or usual care. They were given a sticker to show which arm they had been randomised to. Each group had different responses to the questions.

The team also described their own career pathways. Four of the team are nurses, but the students were also told about other routes into a career in research which does not include being a healthcare professional. Bethany Jones, who is a clinical research practitioner, explained that she had undertaken a BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics followed by an MSc in Reproductive and Developmental Biology before working in research within a hospital.

The CRN KSS Research Delivery team is happy to speak to any young people who are considering research as a career pathway in the future.


Professor Kanegaonkar would like to thank Susan Plummer, Director of the Institute of Medical Sciences at Canterbury Christ Church University’s Medway Campus, who provides the Institute's building as a free venue and without whose generosity this event would not be possible.