Medicine community partnership placements

We're keen to ensure our student doctors think more broadly about medicine and health.


We want students to fully integrate an understanding of the social determinants of health into their future clinical practice wherever that may be, including an appreciation of health inequalities and how they can negatively affect people’s health. Each year students undertake placements within hospitals and other clinical settings.

In 2015 we introduced placements within our local community based organisations: notably those involved in organising and delivering services that seek to address identified needs and improve the health, well-being, and life chances of people living in communities across the Sheffield City Region (covering communities in North East Derbyshire, Rotherham, Doncaster, the Derbyshire Dales, Chesterfield, Bolsover, Bassetlaw, Barnsley and Sheffield). Since then over 2000 students have volunteered in over 200 organisations to support the health and wellbeing of people in the local community.

The aspiration being to provide students with practical learning experiences away from clinical settings; enabling them to see how a wide variety of professionals from different health, education, social work, youth work, community development, housing and other backgrounds work together to address the health and well-being of local communities.

In exchange we ask students to work alongside local community partners to complete a piece of negotiated project work that will make a tangible contribution to that organisation’s activities and/or the health and well-being of a local community or specific client/service user groups.

Deborah Murdoch-Eaton

Deborah Murdoch-Eaton, Dean of Medical Education and leader of the Social Accountability initiative, said: “I have simply been blown away by the experiences our students have gained from their placements.

“The things they have learnt in such a short space of time are unlike anything else on their course and it will stay with them for a lifetime.

“What is so important about this scheme is that it isn’t just about our students taking away valuable experiences, it is also about what the charities, organisations and services can learn from our students.

“Many of them now have new resources, like websites and videos, some have new programmes or ideas which have been designed and created by our students.

“This is truly unique to Sheffield and gives our students the opportunity to become embedded in their local communities and experience what life skills are going to help them go on to be the best health professionals they can possibly be.”

Fieldwork: How to grow a doctor

Medicine placement case studies

Fitting in with the Faculty's aim of being 'socially accountable' our students are sent on placement to community organisations all over the South Yorkshire region. Here are a few examples of what our students have been doing.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

During the 2015 Social Accountability placements, 18 students were placed at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) for a period of 4 weeks. It was agreed that the students would look into how SYFR could lower the burden on other emergency services. The students gave their ideas in a Dragon's Den style competition with the the winning group coming up with innovative ways the fire service can help with falls. These included training fire service staff to identify fall hazards as well as setting up a referral pathway between the fire service and GPs and developing a mobile app to give practical steps people can take to reduce their risk of falls.

Following on from the work completed by our students SYFR collaborated with South Yorkshire Police and set up the Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team. This team is also supported by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. The LIFE team, will see fire and police staff visit hundreds of homes in the city to reduce fire risk in properties, improve security and help people who have fallen and contribute to reducing the risk of falls.

Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice

Bluebell Wood is a children's hospice that supports and cares for children and young adults with life-shortening and life-threatening conditions, as well as their families. They currently support around 250 families at their hospice in North Anston, Sheffield. Four students were placed at Bluebell Wood for their 4-week placement. It was agreed that a Health Needs Assessment and Service Evaluation Questionnaire would be carried out by students.

Students collected a vast amount of data relating to the demographics of the hospice’s local population. The central aim was to understand the barriers faced by families when accessing the service, and why certain families were choosing not to utilise their allocated nights’ stay at the hospice. Students thoroughly analysed their data and, having consolidated their findings, presented the project to the Strategic Management Team and Board of Trustees at the hospice.

The students' work has had a profound impact upon the host organisation. As a result of the Health Needs Assessment, the organisation has significantly enhanced its service provision in streamlining the referral process to facilitate earlier intervention as well as setting up induction days at the hospice along with several other service changes. The students' work has also been critical in providing concrete evidence of the need amongst the hospice's local population which can be taken forward in discussions with CCGs regarding funding for service provision.

St Luke's Hospice

St Luke's is an over-18 hospice operating in Sheffield and helping over 5000 people a year. The students sent to St Luke's were asked to complete two projects working with both Wellbeing and Physiotherapy where they created several pieces of copyright-free media for St Luke's reducing costs for them and providing valuable tools to help their clients. During their time at St Luke's students saw the real benefits of holistic care and gained valuable skills to take into future practice.


Motion is a social enterprise scheme that seeks to provide fitness classes in care homes across Sheffield with the aim to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of residents. The group of students that worked with Motion helped out with many of the fitness classes but also developed a feedback system for care home residents and managers to be able to develop the project to suit the needs of individual care homes. Many students were surprised at just how much of an effect physical activity could have on the residents and found it a very valuable experience to spend time with the elderly as individuals outside of hospital wards.


Endeavour is a charity located in Park Hill, Sheffield that works with disadvantaged young people who have been excluded from mainstream school. The students sent were tasked with helping out with literacy and numeracy sessions as well as building relationships with the young learners and found that a lot of the negative behaviours they were displaying disappeared once they were in one to one interactions. Going into future practice many of our students said they had gained invaluable experience in how to communicate with challenging young people as well as how to educate on difficult and potentially sensitive topics such as mental and sexual health.

Sheffield Futures

Sheffield Futures is an independent charity that supports young people from vulnerable backgrounds to achieve their full potential in life, delivering support around employment and social inclusion. The students werre tasked with providing valuable information to clients and so chose to create workshops where they discussed current health issues faced. To find out what issues they should cover they got feedback from clients as to what their most pressing health concerns were. They then held their workshop covering the problems of mental health, drugs and alcohol in today's society and how to deal with them. Many of the students found they learnt valuable skills such as how to pick up the warning signs of drugs and alcohol addiction as well as greater understanding of the concept of social prescribing.

De Hood

De Hood is a community-based boxing club located on the Manor estate in Sheffield that has over 1000 members. The aim of the club is to teach it's members discipline, self-respect and showing them a better way of life. Since De Hood opened in 2012 the crime rate in the surrounding area has massively dropped with overall crime dropping by 37% and the rate of arson dropping by 50%. The students that went to De Hood were tasked with the challenge of making media resources for the organisation to use. They did this by creating both a poster, and a 40-minute documentary on several of the particularly inspiring and admirable stories of individuals whose lives have been reformed by De Hood as well as collecting statistics to showcase the positive impact De Hood has on its community. The students on placement learnt the incredible impact such a fitness/community centre can have on individuals’ mental and physical health as well as the importance of holistic care and how beneficial to an individuals’ health non-medical solutions can be.

International Mixed Ability Sport (IMAS)

The aim of this placement was to gain an understanding of how healthcare and social programmes can work outside of a hospital or a GP setting, as well as to gain some experience in the community.

Read the full case study on the IMAS website

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.