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ScotGEM Student placements at Care Opinion 2024

Update from Care Opinion Scotland

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picture of Lisa Dendy

This year, we had another great opportunity to work with two students studying the ScotGEM programme at St. Andrews University. In fact, this was our 4th year of hosting the placement and our students were as keen as ever! This year, Martin Saarinen and Megan Goode chose to look at stories on Care Opinion as the basis for their projects. They both chose two very different themes, based on their interests and personal/professional experiences.

Martin explored the experiences of people who had received telephone consultations, and Megan looked at stories about Appendicitis, focussing on information given to patients and relatives.

They presented their work to us on Wednesday 17th of January, 2024, and you can watch the recording here:

We asked Meg and Martin about there experience of working with Care Opinion on their placements, and how this has affected their future practice.

Meg said:

"Compared to my ScotGEM peers, I had a unique opportunity to carry out my service-learning placement with Care Opinion. This placement gave me an exclusive insight into how Care Opinion empowers patients to share their stories which enables positive change to the healthcare system. Through reading patient experience stories, I felt inspired to produce a resource which explained a topic more in-depth for patients.

Through my time at the Care Opinion, I learned how important patient feedback is to clinicians, the NHS and the patients themselves! Gaining meaningful feedback allows clinicians to reflect on events and it gives the NHS the ability to implement positive change throughout the healthcare system. Most importantly, allowing patients to tell their stories in an inclusive environment facilitated by the Care Opinion, enables them to complete their patient journey.

Overview of how people felt in stories about Appendicitis, from Meg's work.

My service-learning placement has taught me the importance of listening to patients and making sure they feel heard throughout any consultations. Specifically, I have realised that an effective doctor-patient relationship relies on mutual trust and open communication channels. In order to achieve this, I will use the ICE structure in consultations. This involves asking patients their ideas, concerns and expectations of the consultation to make sure they have got what they want out of a consultation."

You can view and find out more about Meg's resource here: Who Cares? A Resource to help make a scary experience easier | Care Opinion

On reflection of his time with us, Martin said;

“Before starting the placement with Care Opinion, I had very little knowledge of the organisation and the role it has in improving care and health delivery across the country.

My initial impressions using the platform were largely to do with the significant amount of feedback both patients and relatives leave regarding their experiences, and how this can be used to drive real change in the sectors.

My time with Care Opinion involved a research project into patient experiences with telephone consultations – a growing feature within NHS Scotland. The research highlighted how phone consultations are viewed very positively by patients and relatives when they go well, but also experiences that showcased where there is room for improvement. The research project helped me to better understand how important communication skills are with patients, especially in a remote setting. This is something we’ve talked about in our medical programme already, but it’s been very beneficial getting to understand real-life experiences to further the point, and this is something I’ll carry with me into the future.

Positive findings from Martin's work

I’ll also be using the Care Opinion platform in the future as both a research tool and a service to tell patients and relatives about. It will help me better understand what the patient views are, regarding care in areas I’ll be working in. Encouraging patients and relatives to use the platform will help gather more qualitative data which will help with analysis and organisational change in the future.”

Martin's report can be viewed here: report 2024.docx

A big thank you to Meg and Martin for your time with us. We loved working with you both and wish you well with the rest of your degree and future careers!

Previous ScotGEM Projects

We were so pleased to be working with ScotGEM students again this year, and we wanted to share the previous work created over the last couple of years. There have been some very interesting and inspiring topics.

Here is a blog about Iona Gibson and David Scott's work, looking at Learning disabilities and Realistic Medicine, respectively: ScotGEM Student placements at Care Opinion 2023 | Care Opinion

You can see a blog about Iona Gibson's previous project focussed on Autism, and fellow student, Holly Eggleston's work looking at Palliative Care, in 2022 here: ScotGEM Student placements at Care Opinion 2022 | Care Opinion

You can see a blog about the project work completed in 2021, by students, Dan Newton and Andrew Blain here: Communication & Covid 19 - a presentation and paper from students of St. Andrew's University's… (

Thank you to all the ScotGEM students who have taken part in using Care Opinion stories for research so far. We can't wait to see what themes and findings will be explored in the next placement!

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