Work Experience @ TORT

Ever wondered if the University of Dundee can offer high school children work experience? The answer to that is an emphatic Yes! Two aspiring young students spent this week (4th – 8th April 2016) based at the TORT Centre experiencing what the Institute of Motion Analysis & Research, the School of Medicine and the University as a whole have to offer students who are still at school.

Grace Christie, from County Cork, Ireland, and Tom Neaven, Clitheroe, Lancashire, both aged 16, initially approached Professor Rami Abboud to see if they could complete a work experience week within the Department of Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgery and he was only too happy to oblige by assigning them a supervisor for the week in Mr Ian Christie (Postgraduate Skills Tutor). Grace is interested in pursuing some form of medical research whilst Tom is a keen sportsman who wants to go down the sports medicine and sports biomechanics career path.

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Left: Grace, Helen Weavers (Sport and Exercise Physiologist) and Tom at the Institute of Sport & Exercise; Right: Gordon Hogg (Course Co-ordinator/Facilitator) referees the laparoscopic time challenge at the Cuschieri Skills Centre (CSC).

Professor Abboud stated: “It is vital that we as an institute embrace the local and wider communities to enlighten potential students of the possibilities that studying at the University of Dundee can offer. We at TORT were only too happy to let Grace and Thomas observe and participate in a variety of subjects and research based here. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn and participate was a joy”.

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Left: Grace, Tom, Annie, and Valerie Dowds Christie (Senior Practice Nurse) at Westgate Health Centre; Right: Grace placing retro-reflective markers on Tom at IMAR.

Ian Christie stated: “I would personally like to extend a huge thank-you to everyone who gave their time and experience freely over the past week. The willingness of staff in sparing valuable and precious time resulted in Grace and Thomas getting an action-packed week of sports and medical-related work experience. It has opened their eyes to future career pathways that they would otherwise not have known about. Organising the week’s activities has reinforced to me just what a great place the University of Dundee is to work with colleagues that can be called upon at short notice to give a truly rewarding work ‘experience’ of more than the normal photocopying and filling of envelopes”.

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Left: Sadiq Nasir (Project Support) and Calum MacDonald (Lab Support) and Grace viewing the collected motion data at IMAR; Right: Tom passing the rugby ball in the motion analysis lab at IMAR.

Thomas added: “Looking around a lot of the departments was interesting, as many people would not normally get to see some of these areas, this included looking at the areas where they made the prosthetic limbs and custom wheelchairs. I also enjoyed the more ‘hands on’ activities, for example when we took blood from a dummy arm in the Clinical Skills mock ward, and when we used the various keyhole surgery simulators in the Cuschieri Skills Centre. Using these gave me a greater appreciation of the skills that doctors and nurses have, as I found them quite tricky! Spending time in the labs also made me appreciate the time it takes to gather but also analyse the data used in research, something I did not really expect. The equipment in the labs were also highly impressive, especially the markers and EMG muscle system. Despite the high levels of research in the labs, it occurred to me that the basic principles of biology were there, such as knowledge of the body’s skeletal and muscular systems. This shows how important basic and foundation knowledge of a subject is, especially if you want to study at a higher level”.

Grace also added: "The highlight of the week for me was meeting and interacting with Professor Sue Black's Team at CAHID. Thank you so much Claire for your time and helping with everything. I cannot think of a better and more enriching way to spend a day's work experience than with the world-renowned staff at the institute".

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Left: Tom, Calum, Dr McCoy, Sadiq and Grace at IMAR; Right: Tom and Grace recieving their work experience certificates from Ian Christie, who organised and supervised the week.

Work Experience Itinerary

Day One: Monday began the week with Grace and Tom being shown around the TORT Centre and its facilities and equipment by Ian Christie. He showed them the sports lab, the motion and gait analysis labs, the climbing wall, teaching suites, 3D printers, the tensile testing machines and the gymnasium and sports equipment. Next it was off to the Institute of Sports & Exercise (ISE) where Mrs Helen Weavers gave an extremely interesting tour of the facilities and research labs. The afternoon was arranged by Mrs Gill Keith, Clinical Skills Centre Manager, where Mr Richard Barnes and Mr Paul Ritchie showed Grace and Tom around the facilities including simulated patients, heart simulator and the Dow clinical simulation suite.

Day Two: Tuesday began with a stimulating and highly entertaining morning with Mr Gordon Hogg at the Cuschieri Skills Centre where, after a tour of the facilities, he set the guys a laparoscopic time trial using the simulator trainers to see who could reach the appendix first! Then it was back to Clinical Skills where Mr Robert Smith kindly demonstrated audio-visual techniques for designing student learning materials. The afternoon began with a full CPR training session conducted by Mrs Valerie Dowds Christie (Senior Practice Nurse) from Westgate Health Centre; Grace and Thomas received a recognised CPR certificate. Day two was completed with a tour of the facilities at NHS TORT Centre conducted by Mr Willie Ritchie where they were shown around the wheelchair and seating, prosthetics and orthotics and limb fitting departments.

Day Three: Wednesday was officially allocated as ‘retail therapy’ day. Basically a day off for shopping and good behaviour!

Day Four: Thursday was spent entirely in the motion and gait analysis labs at the TORT Centre where Mr Sadiq Nasir and Mr Calum MacDonald expertly demonstrated the full capabilities available to researchers and clinicians. Seeing as Tom is a County standard rugby player it was decided to collect data on the way the ball is passed from the rear of a scrum and to compare two different techniques of pass; one from a stationary position and the other during a single sweep movement. Grace helped to fit Tom with retro-reflective markers and the Vicon infra-red cameras tracked the motion of his body during both passing manoeuvres. Grace then labelled up the body segments so that data analysis can be conducted at a later date.

Day Five: Friday was an extra special day for Grace as Professor Sue Black and her Team kindly opened the doors to the Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification (CAHID) for the whole day. After being shown around by Claire Cunningham, Grace had a fantastic time and helped in selecting some animal skeletons for display at a forthcoming open day at CAHID, cleaned a human skeleton and was shown the intricacies of investigating and the taking of fingerprints for human identification; even getting her own fingerprints ‘etched’ on brass panels to take home with her. Thomas meanwhile spent time discussing rugby with ex-England tight-head prop Mrs Mandy Palmer-Norrie who is Physiotherapy Team Lead at the NHS TORT Centre, and shadowing Calum MacDonald in the IMAR labs.