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A group of sixth form students siting in chairs listening to a staff member speak at the front of the room. The room is the Radcliffe Primary Care Atrium with columns on the left hand side and cylindrical lights hanging from the ceiling. There are a few tables in the room.

This blog was written by Esther Folorunsho, Health Data Intern at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

On Tuesday 2 July, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences hosted an educational event providing an insight into healthcare and health research for the bright brains of our future in the Radcliffe Primary Care Atrium. Year 12 state school students from Oxfordshire with an eager interest in STEM subjects were invited to this exciting event. While feeding them pizza, knowledge and information, the event also launched the department's first Young Persons’ Advisory Group (YPAG). This offered them a wonderful opportunity to be part of the world of research and will allow them to become young leaders by shaping research!

Whilst taking place on the same grounds where penicillin was administered to the first patient, the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, the event saw people from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines speak about their journeys in academia, helping to ease the minds of anxious sixth-formers. It also provided the chance to network and discuss career prospects with each other and researchers in the department.
Hearing from dieticians to mathematicians and epidemiologists to medical sociologists, the students learnt how everyone can contribute towards improving patient outcomes. Alice, a year 12 student who attended the event, said, 'The event was extremely helpful for making decisions about future education and career ideas. It was very useful hearing a range of different people’s pathways to the jobs they do now in research, and how there are many different areas, not just STEM, that you can come from studying and still end up in healthcare research. It definitely reassures me to not worry too much about big decisions coming up like choosing a university course, as there are all sorts of ways you can change what you do in the future along the way, regardless of what you have initially studied.'

Bella, a year 12 student interested in pursuing medicine said, 'Listening to others’ stories and different journeys into healthcare research was motivational because it made something that I thought was out of my depth and challenging sound more achievable and doable. Also, hearing stories about people doing something I am really interested in was very engaging and fun, and my friends found it really helpful to chat to researchers after the talks. Overall, I found the event very informative and useful!'

During the event, the students were given the opportunity to be involved in research that happens in our department by joining the newly launched YPAG – a key initiative in the department’s PPI strategy. Joining this group will allow young people to have a say in what research is done in our department and how it is conducted. They will also be able to suggest ideas about how we can share research findings in different ways, for example by helping design flyers and leaflets targeted towards young people. YPAG members will receive vouchers for their time and have the chance to be part of national and international networks of YPAGs.

For me, as a visiting intern into the department, I loved seeing the hope in the sixth-former's eyes as they realised the flexibility and acceptance within health research and healthcare. An event like this would’ve been a core memory in helping me define my career path. Speaking to the sixth formers gave me a great deal of perspective of how far I have come, as it was not too long ago I was in their shoes. One of my first roles that interested me in a potential career in research was being part of a YPAG group in mental health research. I was glad to learn and hear about the journeys of all the speakers, they have inspired me to be adventurous and try new things out.

In conclusion, the launch of the Young Persons’ Advisory Group at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences marked a significant step towards engaging and inspiring the next generation of healthcare researchers and healthcare workers. The event offered Year 12 students invaluable insights and an opportunity to actively contribute to the future of health research. By fostering an inclusive environment where young people can influence research and share their perspectives, the department is paving the way for innovative and diverse approaches to healthcare, including efforts to improve Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) activities and work with those who are often less represented. The enthusiasm and curiosity displayed by the students are a testament to the event's success, promising a bright future for the field of primary care health sciences.

Thank you to the guest speakers: Rafael Perera Salazar, Nick Jones, Chris Butler, Lisa Hinton and Nicola Guess, organisers: Polly Kerr, Sharon Dixon and Emma Copland and PPI advisors: Alice and Bella, for making the event happen! A huge thank you to everyone else who helped make this event a success by assisting with setting up and giving their time to chat to some of the students about their academic and research interests, including Andrew Snelling, Anna Dowrick, Anna Moore, Chloe Phillips, Elif Çoker, Esther Folorunsho, Helen Salisbury, Janice Hoang, Nguyen Tran and Ruth Sanders.


Author and contributor bios:

Esther Folorunsho is a Health Data Intern at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. She is an undergraduate student currently about to start her final year in Human Biology.

Alice is a year 12 student studying History, Biology and Chemistry A-levels.

Bella is year 12 student studying Biology, Chemistry and Psychology A-levels and who wants to study medicine at university.


Opinions expressed are those of the author/s and not of the University of Oxford. Readers' comments will be moderated - see our guidelines for further information.


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