3 October 2018

Want to help us inspire students this National Pathology Week? Read our top tips for setting up a visit to a school.

Could you help inspire the next generation of pathologists? The 10th National Pathology Week (NPW) is taking place this November (5 –11) and we want to encourage as many pathologists as possible to speak to students or run interactive activities in schools.

We’ve got loads of resources to help you get started and – if you’ve already got something in mind – tips on the best way to work with schools. 

Before you start

  • Think about what kind of activities you’d like to run. Look at our activity resources, downloadable quizzes and presentations for ready-to-go ideas and materials. If you are thinking of doing a primary-age visit, have a look through our more hands-on activities like our organ resource and our 'Little bit pooey' activity pack. For careers talks for secondary school and sixth form colleges, you can use the College’s careers pages to help develop your talk and pitch your idea to teachers. 
  • Request promotional materials. We have careers leaflets and postcards aimed at students and branded promotional freebies such as pens, stickers and sticky notes that make great prizes. You can order these online

Getting in touch with schools

  • Get in touch as early as possible. November tends to be a good month for schools as there aren’t any exams running, so teachers may be keen for the chance to have a pathologist speak to their students. The more notice you can give them, the better your chances of securing a place.
  • Be mindful of the time and identify the right contacts. Teachers have limited access to their phone and email during a school day – try to call in the window between 3.45 and half past 4 and ask to speak to the Head of Science or of Sixth Form. Have a look around the school website and/or on social media to find the names of particularly active teachers to contact. If you are planning a careers talk, look out for a UCAS coordinator or careers advisor. 
  • Mention the benefits. Good things to mention: you’re offering your time for free, pathology has many links to the curriculum and you can be flexible on what you deliver. For Key Stage 4 and sixth form, you could mention the interesting and diverse career options available and how your talk will be useful to anyone wishing to study medicine (this could go on a UCAS form, for example). Also, if you are planning an interactive activity or a talk, say they are ‘enrichment activities’ that complement formal learning. Avoid writing long emails about the content of your talk – be concise. 
  • Contact organisations that can help get you into schools. Speakers4Schools connect speakers with schools that are looking for them and they might be able to find a school near you. Another idea is to contact your nearest STEM Learning hub and ask them to contact schools in the area,. You could also consider becoming a STEM Ambassador
  • Check audio/visual capabilities. If you’re planning on using a presentation, make sure the school have a laptop and projector ready for you. 

On the day  

  • Plan your time carefully. If you're running our activities for secondary school students, you’ll find timings on the activity instructions. If you’re giving a careers talk, most lessons last 50 minutes, so plan to speak for 20 – 30 allowing the rest of the session for questions. Always plan to take up less time than you have – things never run under, but frequently run over! 
  • Ask questions to keep your audience engaged. Help students to understand how their lives are touched by pathology by asking things like ‘who here has ever had a blood test?’ or ‘do you know anyone who has diabetes?’. These simple jumping-off points will aid the conversation about your work. 
  • Share our videos. Video is a great way to quickly and easily get your message across. See our videos on the journey of a biopsy and a blood sample for starters and keep your eyes peeled for more video content being released during National Pathology Week. 
  • Don’t feel the need to cover everything. Focus on your own story; it’s more important to share your personal experience than cover all 17 pathology specialties in detail, and you can trust that students will do their own research. You can direct students to rcpath.org/careers if they’d like to learn about all the different pathways into pathology. 
  • Take photos – with consent!  In schools it’s especially important to make sure everyone in your photos has agreed to be photographed.  If you want to take photos of students under 16, it’s easiest to only take photos of students from the back. This is because gaining consent from parents and guardians for using images of under-16s can be lengthy and relies on the school contacting the parents. If students are over 16, they can give their own consent. To capture consent, use of the College’s photography and videography consent form, downloadable from our page for event organisers

After the event

  • Tell us about it. We love to hear about the events you run during NPW! Tell the public engagement team what you’re up to by emailing publicengagement@rcpath.org and you may be featured in the College’s NPW highlights.
  • Share your experience on social media. You can help encourage more of your fellow pathologists to volunteer their time in schools by letting them know how much you enjoyed your visit. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #pathologyweek and always ask before sharing a picture of someone. 

Stay tuned for more ways to get involved and make the most of this year’s National Pathology Week. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and keep an eye on #pathologyweek to see what your fellow members are up to! 

If you are interested in running a Blood and Bugs activity, you can get in touch with the public engagement team who have a few physical resources they can send to you. Email publicengagement@rcpath.org for more information. The public engagement team can also help you to expand your ideas or advise if you get stuck. 

Download our activity sheets

You can run most of our activities with easy-to-obtain materials and there are suitable activities for students aged 11 to 18.