Case study

Student volunteers gain hands-on experience in Covid test centre

Students on our Biomedical and Forensic Science courses are gaining valuable hands-on experience as volunteers in the University’s Covid-19 asymptomatic testing centre. BSc (Hons) Human Biology students, Jessica Dauncey and Gracie Patchett, offered their help as they wanted to be part of bringing the virus under control.

Volunteering Opportunities

With instructions from the Government that asymptomatic testing is required for students and staff who are working on-campus, the University of Derby set up a testing centre on its Britannia Mill site for this operation. The testing centre has allowed our Biomedical and Forensic Science students to get involved and volunteer to gain hands-on experience to support their learning. Dr Shiva Sivasubramaniam, Head of Biomedical and Forensic Science states "our students have been given the opportunity to learn in a real life clinical, working environment under the supervision of their own academics."

Two of our second year BSc (Hons) Human Biology students, Jessica Dauncey and Gracie Patchett, volunteered to help as Processing Operatives. Gracie states this role involves “talking to the patients and teaching them how to perform the swab test to ensure it has been done correctly. After the swab has been taken it is our job to ensure the cells collected on the swab are added to the liquid to be put on the lateral flow devices (LFDs).”

Covid-19 Testing Centre sign

Preventing the spread of Covid-19

Both Jessica and Gracie wanted to be part of the efforts to stop the virus from spreading and bring relief and confidence to the community. When asked why she decided to volunteer at the test centre, Gracie replied:

“I would like to go into lab-based work so when the opportunity arose that I could work in a similar setting, I thought it was such a good opportunity for my future. Also, it’s an amazing opportunity to help stop the transmission of this virus and means I could help slow down the spread of Covid-19.”

Developing real-world skills

Whilst working in this role, both Jessica and Gracie have had the opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge. Jessica said the role “has helped to improve my people skills as I had to give people confidence in taking the swab test, as well as being clear and precise when giving instructions to ensure a valid test was produced. These skills will help me when I hopefully become a Physician Associate, particularly my tone of voice and people skills for similar settings in a hospital.”

Gracie said she has benefited from the volunteering as she has “learnt how to be efficient in lab situations and make sure everything is cleaned in an aseptic manner. This will be good for my future career aspirations as I will have the skills for the lab careers.”

A hand holding a positive Covid test

Aiding Derby City Council

The running of this test centre at Britannia Mill has been so successful that "we have been approached by Derby City Council to advise and assist on their new Lateral Flow Device centres and we are also encouraging our students to become volunteer vaccinators for the NHS" (Dr Shiva Sivasubramaniam).