Why I did work experience at an Undertakers

Talk Code: 
Sarah Mitchell
Alexander Baldock
Author institutions: 
Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, and King Edwards Camp Hill Vicarage Rd, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 7QJ


Caring for dying people and their families is a vital role for a doctor. Recognising this, Alex, a sixth form student hoping to study medicine, organized a work experience placement with a local undertaker. The poster will outline what he learnt and why he would recommend the placement to others.


A one week work experience placement was organised with local undertakers, A Natural Undertaking.


Experiences included researching information about different crematoria, collecting ashes, learning about digital autopsies, and visiting a natural burial ground. The main event of the week was a funeral. Preparation included cleaning the car, collecting flowers, dressing the deceased and speaking to family members. This meant that Alex saw a dead person: “It was a weird experience to see a dead body, as I hadn't seen one before. I felt a sort of chill … but after a while it just seemed like any other person. We treated her as if she was sleeping didn’t refer to her as ‘the body’ or ‘it’.”


The placement provided a unique experience which included witnessing compassionate care and learning about the skills necessary to run a business; skills which are highly relevant to a future career as a doctor. The week also highlighted the need for open and honest conversation about death and dying in society which would allow people to express their preferences choices about their end of life care and death, avoiding medical treatments, hospital admissions and expensive funerals which they may not want.

Submitted by: 
Sarah Mitchell
Funding acknowledgement: