International Journal of Healthcare Simulation
Adi Health+Wellness
190 Virtual Work Experience in Medicine: Widening Participation
DOI 10.54531/HQOE6610, Volume: 1, Issue: Supplement 1, Pages: A5-A5
Article Type: In Practice, Article History

Table of Contents





The national lockdowns due to COVID-19 have caused significant disruption to schools and colleges. As well as interruption to their studies, pupils work-experience placements have been cancelled, particularly those based in healthcare. Despite this, the BMA continues to recommend all aspiring doctors undertake placements within healthcare to aid their application to medical school and give them an insight into being a doctor [1]. Additionally, for students from low-income families or those with no ties to healthcare, voluntary placements are often the only opportunity to learn about the various roles of doctors.


Creating a ‘virtual work experience’ using simulated video demonstrations in order for students to gain an understanding of what working as a doctor encompasses. This course was offered free of charge to help encourage students, particularly from low-income households.


Invitation letters were sent to all public and private schools in Merseyside. Contact details and school information were obtained through the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) Government website. Students were asked to fill out a pre- and post-course questionnaire.


Seventy-five schools and colleges were invited. A total of 326 students registered for the course and 220 participated in the virtual conference. All participants were from 18 schools and colleges. Students, where at least one parent had attended university, felt more confident in applying to medical school and securing a place, this was significantly higher when a parent was in the medical profession. Students from private or schools rated as above average by OFSTED felt that they were more likely to apply to medicine than those in schools who were rated average or below-average. Overall, students felt that they had an improved understanding of the different roles of doctors following the course and the simulated scenarios were most useful in encouraging them to apply to medicine.

Implication for practice:

Up to 20% of secondary schools provide 80% of all applicants to medicine, with half of the schools in the UK not providing any applicants to medicine at all. The selection alliance 2019 report on widening participation in UK medical schools suggested that there continues to be a discrepancy in underprivileged students applying to study medicine with barriers including limitations to securing work-experience placements [2]. Virtual work experience and the use of simulation may be useful in providing work experience and encouraging those from low-income households to apply to medicine.

Keshtkar, Ellerton, Kelly, Parr, and Mercer: 190 Virtual Work Experience in Medicine: Widening Participation



BMA. Applying to medical school: our guide will help you to navigate the process of applying to medical school. 2021. Available from: (accessed 18 June 2021)


Alexander K, Palma TF, Nicholson S, Cleland J. ‘Why not you?’ Discourses of widening access on UK medical school. Med Educ. 2017;51(6):598611s. Virtual Work Experience in Medicine: Widening Participation&author=&keyword=&subject=In Practice,