Review of the Brighton and Sussex Virtual Work Experience Platform

Access the platform here: https://bsmsoutreach.thinkific.com/courses/VWE

Hi, I’m Gar Mun, a third-year medic at the University of Birmingham.

For those of you who are interested in applying to medical school, gaining insight into the work of healthcare professionals will benefit. A good way of doing this is through work experience. This is not only important for the application process, but also gives you the opportunity to see if medicine is for you. Medicine is a vocational subject opening the door for you to become a doctor, so make sure you can picture yourself working as one, for what’s possibly, the rest of your life!

I’ve used this online resource offered by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and decided to share my thoughts on it. In this review, I’ll highlight and summarise main points about the platform. Hopefully, this will help you decide if it’s something you’d be interested in.

What is it?

The BSMS Virtual Work Experience is a free online course that aims to highlight key points and scenarios you may encounter on work experience in a clinical setting. The course runs through six modules, each pertaining to a different specialty, and uses patient case studies to help illustrate important learning points. The focus of the course is to underline the role and skills of a doctor, as opposed to hard-theoretic knowledge.

Course Structure

Introduction

1. The NHS and General Practice

2. Elderly Medicine

3. Mental Health

4. Surgery & Inpatient Medicine

5. Emergency Medicine

6. Palliative Medicine and Communication Skills

Reflections

Who is this for?

This course is aimed at medical school applicants. It is not intended to completely replace real world work experience, but to supplement any already undertaken work experience you have done or provide insight into a clinical setting for those who have yet to complete any.


However, given that physical work experience may not be possible for applicants this autumn, this course is one of the next best options!

Thoughts

Whilst this course cannot wholly replicate work experience in the real world, the use of clinical scenarios, consultation videos, and basic medical jargon help to embody a clinical setting.

Rotating through 6 different specialties throughout the modules was enjoyable. Often any work experience that you manage to arrange takes place either in primary care or is focused in one hospital department. Having a breadth in experiences and knowledge gives you a better grasp of the work of a doctor. Since as a doctor, your work can hugely vary depending on specialty.

The course is easy to follow, with a summary of objectives at the start of each module. I found this very useful in giving direction to my learning. Also, it was helpful to go back and review these objectives to tick off whether I still retained and understood the material. Additionally, the course does a great job of breaking down the way doctors treat patients, from diagnosis, examination and investigations to management plans.

At my own work experience placement, I have found myself on many occasions, too embarrassed to ask for explanations of unfamiliar medical jargon. However, the ‘Glossary of Terms’ section at the start of the course addresses this issue. It explains basic clinical terminology and more complex concepts such as ‘capacity’. Moreover, there is a game that involves matching terms with their definitions to test understanding. I would highly recommend any aspiring medics to have a look at this section of the course before they attend any work experience placements, as familiarising yourself with some basic medical terminology will help you engage with the experience further. There are quizzes at the end of each module allowing you to test yourself on the material you’ve learnt. The option to review your answers and see correct answers helps consolidate knowledge.

Personally, I found course topics such as the Structure of the NHS and Training Pathways to be a bit more tedious. However, these topics are important and the course succinctly summarises the content in these areas, making it reader friendly, with everything you need to know at the level of a medical school applicant. Also, it is important to bear in mind that such topics can potentially come up in your interview, so it is very good that the course covers them.

A great feature of this course is the ability to watch clips of consultations and pause when needed. The virtual platform also brings up pop ups at various timestamps in the video to highlight important learning opportunities. This is useful, as in the real world, it is difficult for doctors to halt their consultations to teach.

The signposting to other reputable resources and websites is helpful in guiding wider reading. This is convenient for essay writing or any projects. Module 6 covers medical ethics in more detail and can prove a useful read when preparing for MMI stations or for EPQ inspiration!

Near the end of the course you must reflect on what you have learnt from the course. This can be done in a variety of ways, from a short essay, to a video. Formal reflection is encouraged as a medical student and even as a full-fledged practising doctor. Therefore, getting into the habit now will put you in good stead for the future. Also, at interview examiners are interested in not what you observed at work experience, but more so what you learnt upon reflection, so be comfortable reflecting on all your experiences!

What will you gain?

  1. Certificate

  2. Transcript of reflective work

  3. Something to talk about at interview- especially your end-course reflective piece

Conclusion

The course is:

  • Easy to understand

  • At the level of medical school applicants

  • Well organised with objectives

  • Free!

  • Useful for interview preparation

Overall, I would recommend for any aspiring medics out there to complete this course, as the content is relevant not only to the medical school application process but even as a medical student and doctor.

However, be prepared to spend some time completing the course, as it will take a number of hours. Considering there is no time limit or deadline it must be completed by, I recommend completing a module a day to allow what you’ve learnt to really sink in, rather than inundating yourself with all this content.

Words: Gar Mun Lau

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