Museum education is top of the class for volunteer at the Hunterian Museum in London

By Rachel Hayward | 06 August 2010
Photo showing a man using equipment looked on by another man in a lab coat and a woman filming them

(Above) Clinical Research Fellow and Marsh Award winner, Tom Palser, in action at the Hunterian Museum. © The Royal College of Surgeons of England

Tom Palser, surgical trainee and recent Clinical Fellow to the National Oesphago-Gastric Cancer Audit and volunteer at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London has been presented the Marsh Volunteers for Museum Learning Award for London.

Tom's work with school students was recognised by the Marsh Christian Trust and the British Museum, who recognised Tom's work in encouraging learning.

For the past three years, Tom Palser has been an "invaluable" member of the Hunterian Museum team after volunteering his time to help run a range of learning events about surgery, whilst working in the College's Clinical Effectiveness Unit (CEU).

Tom helped the Hunterian Museum give hundreds of GCSE, A/S and A-level students an introduction to a career in medicine by taking part in surgical skills workshops.

During the sessions, students from different schools and backgrounds had the opportunity to ask questions about a becoming a medical student, and a first hand account of what they needed to do to get there. They also had a go at some surgery themselves by learning suturing techniques.

Jane Hughes, Head of Access and Learning at the Hunterian Museum, emphasised the vital role that Tom played in the workshops:

"We nominated Tom for the Marsh Award because, without him, many school students would have missed out on a unique opportunity to learn directly from a practising surgeon.

"Feedback from teachers attending the sessions complimented Tom on the time he had taken to answer student’s individual questions, however probing and personal, and his enthusiasm for medicine, surgery and research.

"He has regularly stepped in to these workshops, and other museum events, at the last moment when colleagues are delayed in surgery and unable to fulfil their volunteer role which has been invaluable to us."

When asked about volunteering for the Hunterian Museum, Tom said:"Working with the museum during my three years in the CEU never really felt like volunteering.

"I considered supporting the important work they were doing as part of my job as a research fellow at the RCS. I found working with school students at the surgical skills workshops particularly satisfying because I saw students, who never really considered a career in medicine, get excited about the subject for the first time.

"I was also happy to be involved in the learning programmes at the Hunterian Museum because I think, in general, science, medicine and surgery is widely misunderstood.

"Any activity that can change a student's perception of medicine away from the idea that it is either abstract, complicated, or just a backdrop for a TV show like Scrubs, is extremely worthwhile in my opinion."

For more information about learning at the Hunterian Museum, click on the link.

Read about Year 10 student Joshua McGovern's work experience at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

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