Imperial College London

Imperial inspires promising youngsters with community healthcare programme


An illustration concept for health care, medical services and clinics

Imperial's School of Public Health kicked off a programme to help young people into healthcare this summer.

The series of workshops is designed to encourage 16-17 year olds from London secondary schools to pursue healthcare careers, such as becoming a doctor, nurse, midwife, physiotherapist, pharmacist, and public health researcher.

The WATCCH Team at the Department of Primary Care and Public Health

The WATCCH Team at the Department of Primary Care and Public Health

Twenty 16-17 year olds, who aspire to be the first in their families to go to university, attended the first installation of the widen access to careers in community healthcare (WATCCH) programme at Imperial College London’s Charing Cross campus in July 2017.

The induction saw the youngsters create their own mind maps of where they are now and where they would like to be in the future, after talking to five professionals who shared their career journeys from their A-levels to postgraduate degrees.

Participants also dabbled in some hands-on work experience to inspire ideas for their futures. They practised their clinical skills like blood testing, measuring blood pressure, and inserting nasogastric tubes into mannequins at Charing Cross Hospital’s Clinical Skills Lab.

Improving prospects

In 2016, just 3.6 per cent of new students to the UK’s most prestigious universities were from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. This figure is exaggerated within the health sector, where there is also a shortage of work experience, even though it is essential for university applications.

A group of participantsThis percentage is even lower in the health sector, perhaps because of the shortage of work experience available, which is essential for university applications in this field.

Dr Farah Jamil of Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust, and lead GP for the WATCCH programme, said: “The WATCCH project is needed now more than ever. Given the NHS recruitment crisis and shortage of work experience available to prospective students, it’s vital that we target these talented but often overlooked and unsupported youngsters.

“The NHS workforce is certainly facing a recruitment crisis and our aim is to help channel and support able and enthusiastic applicants towards a brighter future in healthcare.”

What's next?

The pupils, in pairs, will now attend a three-day work experience attachment at a GP surgery over the summer, where they will shadow various health care professionals ranging from GPs and pharmacists, to nurses, physiotherapists, and phlebotomists, who collect blood samples from patients.

Students at the Clinical Skills Lab at Charing Cross Hospital

Students at the Clinical Skills Lab at Charing Cross Hospital

Dr Jamil added: “In early September we will run a final workshop day to review their reflections of what they have learnt from their work experience. They will hopefully complete a placement project to showcase their new skills and present the findings at this workshop. We will also revisit their mind maps to review if their thoughts have changed following the placement, and work on including their new-found skills in their UCAS applications.”

For further information about the WATCCH programme contact Dr Farah Jamil, lead GP for WATCCH programme, at


Caroline Brogan

Caroline Brogan
Communications Division

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Careers, Public-engagement, Public-health, Strategy-educational-experience
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