DR.EAM Junior took place on December 7th 2019, and was the third ever DREAM conference and second annual DREAM conference for Year 12 students. After the success of our Year 12 conference in 2018, we had huge goals for DREAM this year – to reach more widening access students based on POLAR quintiles, to have more engagement with attendees by having 5 workshops, and to bring in more doctors from a variety of specialties to talk to students. I believe we achieved these goals and had a successful and engaging conference.
Planning the conference started in early September, primarily with room booking and gathering a team of conference reps to help plan the conference. As BWAMS hosted another conference in October for Year 13 students, we had some insight from that team regarding what difficulties they faced.
Applications for attendees were released in early November, with contacting schools completely organised and controlled by the University of Birmingham MDS Outreach and Widening Participation Team. Applications were on the BWAMS website, and involved a short google form where information was collected to calculate students POLAR quintiles. We received over 150 applications, and could send out offers to all attendees from POLAR Quintiles 1,2 and 3, as well as additional attendees from other quintiles with disabilities or with neither parent having attended university. We had 104 attendees come to our conference, which was above our goal of 100 attendees.
Next step was organising the lectures, workshops, and volunteers. Lectures was done first, as it involved contacting doctors from a variety of clinical backgrounds, hoping to give them enough notice so they could make the event despite busy schedules. We ended up having 6 doctors speak at the conference, from neurosurgical trainees, to hospital pharmacology consultants, to acute medicine registrars and junior doctors. These talks showcased the breadth of medicine, and how the same degree can result in many diverse career options. We were also proud to have many of our doctors come from widening access backgrounds themselves, and we believe they were relatable to our attendees.
We also had an Application Advice segment, where BWAMS medical students and Junior Doctors delivered a series of talks on every aspect of the application process. We had talks on pathway to medical school, personal statements, UCAT, BMAT, Interviews, and Admissions with focus on the Pathways to Birmingham programs. All of these talks were interactive, and involved group discussions and even role play! We also had representatives from Aston Medical School present to talk about their widening access programs during lunchtime to interested students.
After lectures was workshops. We had 5 workshops. The first was “Life as a medical student” and involved our medical student volunteers delivering a presentation about their lives as medical students, and then a question and answer period for attendees to have all their questions about medical school answered. We had Basic Life Support teaching and Clinical Skills workshops which occurred in the clinical skills rooms in the medical school that resemble hospital wards. This allowed attendees to be introduced to skills that they will learn as medical students, and to see what education in a clinical environment is like. This is an unique experience that separates them from the thousands of other applicants.
Afterwards, the Birmingham Surgical Society (SurgSoc) delivered a surgical skills workshop where they taught basic suturing and gowning and gloving. I know a lot of students found this to be their favourite workshop because it was extremely hands-on!
Finally, we had Cochrane UK come to deliver a workshop on Evidence Based Medicine. This was engaging and interactive, and contained a lot of pertinent information that will be useful throughout the application process and throughout medical education.
Finally, the volunteers. We had a small team of BWAMS members that organised all the ins and outs of running the conference. However, we also had over 40 additional medical students involved in the conference, from helping with registration, to being group leads for attendees, to running the workshops. Attendees were able to interact with and learn from medical students all day, and hopefully left being able to see themselves succeeding at medical school and beyond.
I know as conference lead, I learned so much from planning this conference. I learned how to lead other students, how to stay organised, and how to interact with people from all backgrounds, from consultants to year 12 students. All the medical students involved in the conference found it extremely rewarding, and I hope all the attendees found the conference helpful and inspiring. I think it is so important that people from all backgrounds can be represented in our healthcare service and excel as doctors, and I am so happy I could take part in DREAM Junior 2019 and inspire 104 Year 12 students to pursue a career in medicine.
After our attendees filled out our feedback forms, we took a first look at the impact of our conference.
Over 90% of conference attendees agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoyed the conference, found it useful, and found the information relevant.
This decreased to 72% who agreed or strongly agreed that the sessions were all an appropriate length. This is because most attendees wished that the doctors talks were shorter and the workshops were longer.
The most popular aspect of the conference was by far the workshops, with several students specifically stating in written feedback that they enjoyed the surgical skills, clinical skills, and BLS workshops, but many also saying that they enjoyed talking to medical students and the application advice.
Written comments from Year 12 attendees:
“It was very informative and engaging and gave a real insight into medicine”
“Gave me an insight into lots of different fields”
“It was very engaging and allowed me to explore different areas of surgery /medicine.”
“It was engaging and educating and fitted me perfectly”
"I enjoyed the surgical skills and clinical practice and the talk about neurosurgery. I also found the admissions talk very helpful."
Written by Adeolu Banjoko, Dr.eam Junior Conference Chair