UK (University of East Anglia) Training tomorrow’s Medical and Healthcare professionals: UEA celebrates NHS 75
As the UK celebrates 75 years of the National Health Service (NHS) today (Wednesday 5 July), the University of East Anglia (UEA) is flying the flag to celebrate the University’s NHS partners, as well as the thousands of medicine and health sciences graduates who have worked for the service.
UEA has more than 1,800 students registered within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences but in fact, many medical professionals’ first steps in medicine at the University started before they even finished their school studies – in the Preparing for Medicine outreach programme.
Preparing for Medicine (previously called Medical Aspirations) is one of UEA’s flagship health outreach programmes and was set up in 2010 with two main aims:
- To support local (Norfolk and North Suffolk) academically able students from widening participation backgrounds to consider studying medicine.
- To help participants to gain the necessary skills and information in order to make a successful application for a medical degree course.
Laura Flower, who is currently in her third year of Medicine at UEA, is one such student who used the programme as a gateway to her medical studies. She said:
“Preparing for Medicine was a transformative experience that paved the way for my journey into medicine. Through the programme I gained an insight into what Medical School would entail, allowed me to develop invaluable skills for interviewing and the application process, whilst meeting likeminded individuals who shared the same passion. As I was the first student to apply for medicine from my Sixth Form, I had little support, but Preparing for Medicine gave me the confidence, belief and support I needed to pursue a career there.
“The programme is a great outreach initiative for aspiring medical students, and it encourages the development of essential skills such as problem-solving, effective communication, and self-reflection. It’s a unique opportunity to explore your passion, gain valuable insights, and increase your chances of pursuing a career in medicine: guaranteeing you an interview at UEA upon completion of the programme. I cannot thank the programme enough for the support it gave me, and continues to give me, throughout my journey in medicine.”
The East of England is identified to be a region that has the joint equal lowest ratio between the share of UK doctors and the share of the needs weighted population, with a value of 87% (range in England 87% to 150%). At UEA, widening access to medicine, especially to those from the local community, is a key goal. One way the University strives to achieve this is through the Preparing for Medicine programme.
Since the programme began in 2010, it has grown as demand has increased, developing from a three-day residential in the early days, to the current eighteen-month iteration that offers a comprehensive and supportive environment for aspiring medics drawn exclusively from the local region. Current activities include online mentoring through Bright Medics, a three day and two-night residential at UEA, University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) workshop, GP workshop, mock interviews with medical professionals at UEA, and GP placements over the summer between year 12 and 13.
For the most recent cohort, which ran from March 2022 – April 2023, over 100 applications were received with 38 students enrolled on the programme. Of the enrolled students, over 50% applied to study medicine at UEA, with 75% of those offered a place on the MBBS with a Gateway Year and MBBS courses.
Dr Charlie Williams, Lecturer in Medicine and Widening Participation Academic Officer in Norwich Medical School, said:
“We believe that a young person living in our region who wishes to be a Doctor, Surgeon, or other medical professional within the NHS, should not be stymied by any geographical or socioeconomic influences beyond their control. The Preparing for Medicine programme is one of our most effective ways to improve equity through student access, retention, success, and positive outcomes.
“In this 75th year of the NHS it is heartening to see first-hand the enthusiasm and dedication our students have to become a part of the future of this remarkable institution. Although other providers across the country may offer similar programmes on the face of it, I believe the knowledge we have accumulated, wraparound support we offer, and access to experts and experiences makes Preparing for Medicine a unique and essential proposition.”
The University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences has a long and proud history of partnering with NHS providers in the East Anglian region – collaborating and supporting students and professionals across research, training, teaching and knowledge exchange.
UEA Health and Social Care Partners currently number more than 20 organisations across the region, including Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board, and Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust.
One of the most impactful partnerships, undoubtedly aided by both their shared location on Norwich Research Park, and through the exchange of research, knowledge and staff, is that between UEA and The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH), which oversees Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Cromer Hospital, and The Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital.
School of Health Sciences
Since its establishment, the NHS has been a beacon of hope and compassion, providing high-quality healthcare services to millions of individuals across the UK, and UEA’s School of Health Sciences (HSC) shares this commitment by preparing the next generation of healthcare professionals.
HSC School currently educates students for 11 different NHS professions, with graduating students registering this year under the Nursing and Midwifery Council or Health and Care Professions Council in the following:
- Adult Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, Learning Disability Nursing and Children and Young People’s Nursing
- Nursing Associates
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech and Language Therapy
- Operating Department Practice
The School also supports the continuing professional development of the NHS and social care workforce though their post-qualification programmes, particularly in preparing advanced practitioners, and work closely with local NHS colleagues to provide specialised courses such as the Doctorate in Health and Social Care aimed at senior practitioners.
Prof Kenda Crozier, Dean of the School of Health Sciences, said:
“We are working closely with our Trust partners to ensure employability is a key element in all of our health care programmes, ensuring that our students are able to develop the skills and knowledge to work in the areas and in the roles that best suit them upon qualification. To this end, we are developing pathways to enable students to be affiliated largely with one of our Trust partners for the majority of their programmes, depending on the requirements of the professional bodies.
“Our apprenticeship learners are supported by their employers to learn on the job and also to attend university. The close working between the NHS (and social care organisations) and the University is very important to the success of the health care programmes at UEA.”
The role of nursing has only grown in importance, skill and required expertise after 75 years at the forefront of the health service in England, and pressure since the start of the pandemic, and now the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan 2023 has committed to increasing the numbers of nurses in training each year.
UEA’s unique nursing programmes provide immersive experiences with valued practice partners, to give them invaluable insights and skills for their careers, and see students nurtured through simulation training to hone their skills with precision and resilience, preparing them for any challenges they may encounter in the NHS healthcare system.
Lorraine Randlesome, BSc Adult Nursing Course Director, said:
“We empower our nursing students with exceptional training opportunities and interprofessional learning within the NHS. Equipped with exceptional knowledge, skills and an emphasis on evidence-based practice, our nursing students effortlessly bridge the gap between theory and practice, to ensure the highest standard of care for every patient they provide care for.
“Our nursing students exemplify excellence, embodying compassion, competence, and a drive for continuous growth; our graduates embark on brilliant career prospects, serving as leaders and change agents in the healthcare landscape. This is the heart of a healthcare system that thrives on their dedication to providing exceptional care and shaping a better future for healthcare.”
Dr Jason Corner, MSc Mental Health Nursing Course Director, said: “Our nursing programmes pride themselves on the creation of community of learners. We believe that a strong learning community is central to us producing a high quality, collaborative and resilient nursing workforce.
“Our dedicated nursing building is equipped with bespoke nursing skills and simulation teaching spaces. These spaces reflect many of the real clinical environments you will encounter whilst on placement, helping you to safely practice fundamental nursing skills under the supervision of our experienced and creative skills and simulation facilitators.
In February, Dr Corner also led on and developed a large-scale simulation ‘Critical Incident Day’ alongside colleagues in HSC, transforming the nursing building into a hospital for the day. The event was nominated for Teaching Innovation of the year 2023 in the Student Nursing Times awards and saw more than 250 student nurses attend, taking on a variety of clinical roles to support real patients.