Students from across Swansea University Medical School have gained an insight into the research opportunities and teams across the school after participating in the SPIN summer placement programme.

Summer placements

SPIN are 4-week graduate level placements managed by the Swansea Employability Academy (SEA). Students are paid at minimum wage for a 21 year-old and generally work during the summer vacation period (but sometimes part-time during term). All participating students attend a free Employability Bootcamp.

The group, which included students from Medical Genetics, Biochemistry, Medical Biochemistry,Health Informatics and Health Data Science, were selected by academics, and were subsequently placed within teams relevant to their courses and career aspirations. Second year BSc Biochemistry student April Rees said: “My supervisor Professor Cathy Thornton informed us of the opportunity for a summer placement during an Immunology module lecture. I wrote to her expressing my interest as that module was my favourite. Being selected for the placement depended on exam results, and luckily I did well enough to be offered a place.”

Josie Ransom, BSc Medical Genetics student, was placed with Professor Phil Newton, investigating what higher education teachers are taught about plagiarism. She said: “I loved expanding my knowledge and experience of carrying out research. The aim is for this research to be published, which would be an amazing achievement and something I will be very proud of.”

Final year Medical Biochemistry, Ryan Bevan undertook a project with Dr Tom Wilkinson within Microbes and Infectious diseases research group. His project was separated into two key aspects which provided Ryan with numerous skills for the future. Ryan said; “This placement has engaged and enlightened me to commence my Masters in the upcoming October.”

Reflecting on the long-term benefits of her placement, Kristen Hawkins, second year BSc Medical Genetics student explained: “My placement has been very beneficial in determining a career path for myself. I thoroughly enjoyed working within the neuroscience lab and so have decided that my next career step will be to apply for a Masters/ PhD within a medical research lab, specifically targeting neuroscience labs.”

Dr George Johnson, the Employability Director at Swansea University Medical School said: “Feedback has been extremely positive from both the students and our academic colleagues. The School has benefited from the fresh perspective and enthusiasm of the students, while they have had the opportunity to tap into our wealth of research knowledge and expertise. This greatly enhances the employability and student satisfaction of students, while often laying the foundation for PhD grant applications with named applicants for the academics, therefore it is a win-win situation.”

Professor Cathy Thornton, Deputy Head of Swansea University Medical School, who also won the SEA Staff Contribution to Employability Award earlier this year added “We have been impressed with the calibre of students on our summer placement programme and we look forward to building on this success in the future.”

For more information about SPIN placements visit SEA: https://myuni.swansea.ac.uk/work-placements/ or follow them on Twitter @SwanseaUniSEA