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Engaging biomedical students with their course via in-curriculum professional development

J. Choate, M. Demaria, M. Etheve, S. Cran and D. Carroll, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia.

Undergraduate biomedical science degree-programs are considered to be non-vocational, with a diverse range of career outcomes. Analysis of anonymous surveys found that biomedical students were anxious and uncertain about their careers, with a positive correlation between students’ self-rated low levels of careers confidence and poor wellbeing (as assessed via the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Survey; DASS). In response to this careers anxiety, an in-curriculum, course-wide and assessed professional development program was developed and delivered into the biomedical course by an integrated team of careers educators and biomedical academics. Assessments involve contributions to a transferable ePortfolio, allowing students to build a record of their employability-related experiences, skills and knowledge. Completion of the program increased students’ self-ratings of their careers confidence, enhanced their awareness of careers options and employability skills and increased their engagement with the university careers service, but did not impact on the levels of Depression, Anxiety and Stress within the cohort. This program provides a practical and successful approach for students’ to engage with their professional and career development in large cohorts, but it would need to be expanded if it was to significantly enhance their wellbeing.