Sixth form students at Cheadle Hulme School are contributing to vital research in experimental medicine as part of a new public and patient involvement and engagement group at the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Tom Semple and Lizzy Wasson, currently completing their A level examinations at the independent school were selected by the NIHR / Welcome Trust Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) to add a young person’s perspective to the group, helping the CRF improve the patient and public’s experience of taking part in clinical research.
The CRF is a purpose built facility, located on the hospital campus, supporting world-class experimental medicine in adults and children.
The CRF Involvement and Engagement Group, which Tom and Lizzy have been part of since the beginning of the year, aims to engage members of the public of all ages with research and improve the experience for those taking part in studies.
It includes representation from adult and children’s nurses, senior managers, administration and communication teams, and the two Sixth Form students.
Head Boy, Tom, who is looking to pursue a career in medicine on leaving Cheadle Hulme School, said: “We were able to talk a lot about the patient experience in the CRF and discussed great new ideas for how to make that experience better for everyone.
“Contributing to the group has opened my eyes to the extra possibilities a career in medicine can offer. I’d never appreciated how big and important an area clinical research is and just how many people are involved in its improvement.”
Deputy Head Girl and budding Paediatrician, Lizzy added: ““I was able to talk about my experience with the group in my university interviews this year; it was great to have it on my personal statement, showing a greater understanding of the wider medical field, not just clinical work.
“I felt that the group really valued our input and the alternative perspective we offered. It was great to be working so closely with doctors and nurses as well as getting the chance to look round the children’s research ward and see how play therapy is used with young people.’
Strengthening links between the school and the Trust, two additional students have also been given the privilege of taking part in work experience in the children’s clinical research facility, learning about roles, the different types of research and contributing to specific projects within the children’s facility.
Gail Woodburn, Lead Nurse for Research from the CRF said: “It is fantastic to have two young people sit on our involvement and engagement group. They bring a very different perspective to our work and ensure any communications we produce are relevant for young people. They also contribute to the development of projects, looking at how we gain feedback from people participating in research at the CRF.
“Being a committee member involves preparing for meetings, reading papers, commenting on strategy development and contributing to discussion and debates. This provides the students with the opportunity to have a voice and gain experience in meetings management, as well as contribute to their on-going personal development in readiness for university and future careers.”
Experimental medicine, also known as early phase clinical research, is undertaken to better understand the cause of disease and test new treatments.
It has been proven that increased engagement and involvement in research by public and patients in improves patient experience and increases study recruitment and retention.
Two further Sixth Form students will replace Tom and Lizzy on the CRF Involvement and Engagement Group once they have completed their examinations at Cheadle Hulme School.