Traditionally, recently reported that over 60% of current trainee

 

Traditionally,
in the UK, becoming a doctor and practicing medicine has been, predominantly, associated
with the more advantaged members of society, with medicine as a career typically
only being accessible to those individuals attending the most elite schools and
receiving the best education. However, over the years and as society has
evolved, many efforts have been made to try and change this mentality and
diversify the population of doctors. It has long been felt that the cohort of
doctors in the UK should represent individuals from all walks of life; backgrounds,
ethnicities and gender, to be able to best understand and serve the general
population and improve the quality of health care provided.

 

In 2014,
the ‘Selecting for Excellence Report’1 examined the issue of
widening participation within medicine, in an attempt to establish strategies
to ‘reach out’ to and encourage a wider population of students to consider
medicine as a profession. The report concluded that over 75% of the students in
medical schools across the UK came from only 20% of schools2. Furthermore,
the General Medical Council recently reported that over 60% of current trainee
doctors were from affluent areas and attended fee paying or independent schools
3, illustrating the prevailing unequal representation of differing
backgrounds within the medical profession4.

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There
have been various causes attributed to the under-representation of young people
from lower socioeconomic backgrounds within medicine. The 2012 ‘Fair access to
Professional Careers’ report5 conveyed several important factors
that they have found to likely be contributing to this under-representation such
as a lack of knowledge of the medical school application process and a considerable
lack of outreach programmes5.

 

 

In light
of these findings, the ‘Selecting for Excellence Report’ established a
subject-specific outreach framework, to be implemented by medical schools
across the country, to engage with individuals from groups with lower involvement
rates in medical education1. The guidance promotes the creation of programmes,
targeting young people at all stages of their education, to encourage and
inspire medicine as a career. The framework also suggests that these programmes,
to be most effective, ideally should be run by medical student ambassadors who
reflect the social demographic of the target group to endorse the idea that
medical school is ‘for pupils like me’1.

 

 

 

Project Aim

 

This
project aims to address the current problem, on a local scale, of
underrepresentation of individuals from a lower socioeconomic background in the
medical profession. This will be achieved by providing an ‘Introduction to
medicine’ taster day for local school students to raise awareness of, and
hopefully inspire, medicine as a future career option.

 

 

 

Project description

 

In South
West Wales, a ‘Reaching Wider’ scheme was set up as an initiative with the aim
of advancing the participation of underrepresented members (target groups), of
the community in higher education. The scheme collaborates with Swansea
University to provide a variety of educational and aspiration nurturing
activity days for students of all ages6. The Reaching Wider team,
over recent years, has collaborated with the Graduate Entry Medical Programme
at Swansea University to provide informative ‘taster’ days for local secondary
schools with the aim of raising awareness of medicine as a future career
through the medium of interactive educational sessions.

 

 

This
project is a product of the on going partnership between the Reaching Wider
Scheme and the Swansea Graduate Entry Medical Students. As a group, 5 medical
student ambassadors created and delivered an informative and educational ‘introduction
to medicine’ day for Key Stage 3, Year 7 pupils. The pupils in attendance were
selected from a ‘target school’, which is situated in a community of lower
socio-economic status and has been identified as having significantly low rates
of pupils entering higher education. This age group, of Year 7 pupils, were
selected to participate in the educational day, as opposed to older students,
as it has been advocated by the ‘Who’s in health?’ campaign7 that
earlier involvement of an outreach programme within a students education
provides better outcomes by improving the likelihood of continuing with higher
education. Furthermore, it was also felt on inspection of the current Key Stage
3 curriculum, that the educational day would be suitable for this age group as
it would supplement their school curriculum and enrich the students learning to
enhance their scientific knowledge8 as well as promoting medicine.