George reflects on his virtual work experience

I am interested in a career in healthcare as a doctor or paramedic. So this summer whilst deciding which university course to apply for I completed work experience with Cochrane Common Mental Disorders. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this was a bit different to normal and was a virtual placement.

To date, I have had lots of practical experience from working in a care home for over a year, a real challenge at times with COVID-19. But I didn't know as much about the academic side of things, so before applying to university I wanted to know more about how health research informs clinical practice. I didn't really know much about Cochrane and was surprised to find out how long it takes to publish a Cochrane Review and how much time and effort goes into producing the research evidence.

Highlights for me, in terms of the tasks I most enjoyed during the placement, were definitely working on some of the screening activities through Cochrane Crowd. I learnt alot through practically screening and identifying which studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) through one of the tasks on the Cochrane Crowd Student Pathway. I was less keen on learning about James Lind and his scurvy trial! that felt a bit like a lesson at school.

I think I would have enjoyed it being a face-to-face placement as I could have met more staff members (over coffee and cake!) and really experienced working on a university campus. So although it is good to still have been able to do a placement during the pandemic, I would have liked to be there in person. 

I am glad I did this placement it has given me a good introduction to using evidence in healthcare and how important it is. But there is alot of content and I think some of the things I have started to learn about will be helpful to me in the future, but I am not 100% sure how they will be helpful yet! 

George Atang, August 2021