STUDENTS considering careers in medicine have been given an invaluable insight into life in a hospital with the help of robotic “patients”.

The youngsters from schools and colleges throughout County Durham and Darlington spent the day in a purpose-built training ward at Bishop Auckland General Hospital, discussing their ambitions with doctors and careers advisers.

They even had the chance to practice on life-sized talking mannequins in the hospital’s pioneering clinical simulation centre.

Simulation Clinical Teaching Fellow, Dr Justine Rhodes, said: “The day is all about giving students a realistic view of what being a doctor entails and to encourage them to apply for medicine if this is the right career for them.

“We are lucky to have state-of-the-art facilities in the simulation centre and they provide a unique opportunity for young people. Interacting with the mannequins allows the students to get as close to the real thing as possible.”

The high-fidelity mannequins are used to train clinical staff all year round, and the students were given the chance to talk to the patient-simulators, monitor their breathing and heartbeats, and check pulses.

The annual “Being A Doctor Day” – organised by the Medical Education Team – is part of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust’s commitment to engage with schools and colleges to encourage youngsters to pursue careers in the health service.

It follows the trust’s Cardiac Arrest Prevention Team recently going out to local schools to demonstrate basic life support techniques.

During the day at the simulation centre, foundation doctors Homesh Ramkhelawon and Hannah Harrison talked to the students about their experiences of training in the health service.

Representatives from Newcastle University were also on hand to give advice on applications to medical schools.

One of the participating students Vaibhav Tiwari, 16, who lives in Chester-le-Street and attends Durham Johnston School, said: “It’s extremely valuable to get this kind of experience. I’ve wanted to be a doctor from being small but this really helps to make your mind up.”

Fellow Durham Johnston student, Nico Goeta, 17, of High Shincliffe, added: “What the trust are doing for us in providing this opportunity is really helpful and much appreciated - the idea of medical school is so interesting and Newcastle University sounds fantastic.”