Male nurses and female medics inspiring the next generation of health professionals

Biggin Hill Primary School Academy pupils learned about proper handwashing technique.

Hospital staff in Hull are seeking to reverse traditional stereotypes when it comes to healthcare careers.

The commonly held belief than ‘nurses are women and doctors are men’ is something that Simon Knopp, Practice Development Matron for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, is helping to address.

Simon, a former Royal Engineer who has served in Bosnia, was inspired into his nursing career by his wife after leaving the forces. 

Now, having practiced as a nurse for more than 16 years, Simon is keen to promote nursing careers and, in particular, to get more men representing the profession.

This week, Simon visited a class of around 90 Year 1 pupils at Biggin Hill Primary School Academy, north Hull. 

He said: “The early years are so important when it comes to children formulating ideas, not just about what they might want to be when they grow up, but about who can take on a particular type of job or role.

“I’ve visited lots of school classes in my time and it’s amazing how many pupils think I must be a doctor because I’m a man. 

“Visits like the one today at Biggin Hill Primary certainly help to show that a career in caring can be for anyone, no matter who you are.

“It also gives us the opportunity to get pupils thinking about health careers from an early age, and hopefully inspire young people to study and train to become our doctors, nurses and other health professionals of the future.”

As well as giving a talk to the pupils, Simon also took along a UV light box which is used for infection control demonstrations. Pupils learned about proper handwashing technique, and then a number were invited to place their hands under the UV light after washing to see which areas they had missed and could be carrying germs. 

Mrs Hodgson, the Year 1 teacher at Biggin Hill Primary School Academy said: “All the children were really engaged in the handwashing discussion and were eager to ask questions and have a go. They really took on board the advice and could explain the benefit of careful handwashing. Not only did it support our healthy schools agenda but it was really nice to be able to have a positive role model in school to inspire the children.”

Simon’s work is just one example of how the hospital trust is linking in with schools and colleges across the area to promote NHS careers and inspire the next generation of health professionals. Hull Royal Infirmary regularly throws open its doors to students, most recently teaming up with the Children’s University to give students an insight into ‘A Day in the Life of the NHS’.

The Trust is also home to many inspirational female medics such as orthopaedic surgeon, Elizabeth Moulder. Miss Moulder regularly champions medical careers for girls and women, and was an expert panellist in the 2017 ‘Women of the World’ event in Hull which sought to promote gender equality.

[Rachel Johnson – Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust]

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