More than ten thousand teenagers have signed up for virtual work experience as GPs in a pioneering project to encourage strong applications for medical courses.
The Royal College of GPs launched its virtual work experience project three months ago – and it has been overwhelmed by interest. The project was established because practices were finding it difficult to accommodate requests for work experience, making it hard for many young people to apply for medicine. The ten thousand applicants could represent about half the 20,000 expected to apply for medical courses over the next few months.
The work experience site, Observe GP, has pre-recorded videos of GP consultations together with activities to introduce prospective students to primary care. Videos were filmed in east London, Cambridge and Hertfordshire. The college says it is being rapidly updated to represent the “evolving” landscape of primary care. It hopes that medical schools will accept the site as evidence of work experience.
Chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “Many aspiring doctors will have watched with admiration as GPs and colleagues across the NHS have gone above and beyond throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s important we engage with those students to highlight general practice as a viable career option, and Observe GP has been an excellent vehicle for doing so.
“Ten thousand registrations in four months is incredibly encouraging for the future of our profession, particularly when you consider that UK medical schools receive around 20,000 applicants each school year. This level of engagement reflects that a significant number of aspiring medics are interested in general practice and for good reason – being a GP can be the best job in the world.
“Observe GP can be used at any time by any one so the limitations of traditional work experience such as schedule clashes and social inequalities are eliminated. COVID-19 has also presented as a challenge for many students who planned to use their summer holidays to gain relevant work experience but we hope that initiatives, such as GP Observe will prove useful in providing an alternative for bright aspiring medics at a time when we’re all working differently.”
One 17-year-old said: “Observe GP is simply a wonderful platform which has allowed me to develop as a person and gain a deeper insight into the stresses and rewards of being a general practitioner. Working my way through this platform has allowed me to certainly see myself as a GP in the future and I would thoroughly recommend it to all aspiring medics.”