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How to organise your first outreach conference

On Sunday 6th October 2019, BWAMS ran their second DR.EAM Conference, at the University of Birmingham, aimed at year 13 students who were applying to Medicine in 2019.

The Planning

A lot of time will be spent planning the day, so the earlier you start the easier it will become.

TIP: Start to brainstorm what you would like from the day – what age group are you targeting? Who do you need to contact at your University to run a conference? Will the widening participation team at your medical school help? How will you recruit medical students to help? (a google form linked to an excel sheet is the easiest way) Do you want doctors to come and speak at the conference?

We knew we would be targeting year 13 students who are applying a few weeks after the conference. Therefore, we didn’t need to focus too much on the application process! The main aim of our conference was to provide the students with adequate information to prepare them for interviews and to add last minute changes, if needed, to their personal statements. We also worked very closely with the Outreach team at the University of Birmingham to enable us to hold this event.

The lectures

TIP: Decide what types of lectures you want to hold and who will present for each one.

For our conference, we timetabled the lectures in the morning so the workshops and mock interviews would be in the afternoon. Two of our committee members presented the ‘Welcome Talk’ and ‘Application Advice – Last minute tips for the personal statement and the interview process’. Dr Clare Ray, the lead for Outreach and Widening Participation at the University of Birmingham, was able to provide a lecture on Pathways to Birmingham.

We also Invited 2 Junior Doctors to come and talk about their journey through medical school and life as a junior doctor working in the NHS. One of the junior doctors also presented a medical ethics lecture which received really good feedback from the year 13s!

“Dr Malik gave a really good insight into how medical ethics works and what it entails when approaching ethical dilemmas. He explained what the four pillars are really well, and I found it especially useful that he gave examples with detailed explanation on how to approach such a question. Overall, I found it really useful and interesting as it was a topic, I was unfamiliar about but now I am able to comfortably talk about it in interview.”

Our final lecture was presented by a medical student from the University of Birmingham, Haroon Shah, who talked about ‘Life as a Medical Student’. The lecture covered the difference between a pre-clinical and clinical medical student and what opportunities Haroon has been able to have through studying the degree.

Obtaining work experience can sometimes be notoriously difficult and so we provided workshops that would allow students to participate and therefore reflect on the experience in the personal statement and interviews.

The workshops

Four workshops were organised for the conference:

· A Basic Life Support (BLS) taster session

· A ‘clinical skills equipment’ taster session

· A ‘surgical skills’ workshop

· ‘NHS Hot Topics in the news’ workshop

All 4 workshops are easy to run as long as you have the equipment and keen medical students to help run the session! It was great to see how engaging the year 13s were in the sessions.

TIP: Which societies are at your university and are they happy to collaborate with you for this conference?

Basic Life Support Taster Session

For this workshop, we collaborated with the Basic Life Support Society at the University of Birmingham who were able to provide the dummies and AED kits for the workshop.

The workshop was 25 minutes and the participants were able to learn how to do CPR and use an AED kit.

Clinical skills equipment Taster Session

BWAMS are fortunate to own a couple of stethoscopes, peak flows, manual blood pressure machines, pen torches and tendon hammers. We paired up medical students with the year 13s and showed them how to use the equipment and explain their use.

Surgical Skills Workshop

For this workshop, BWAMS collaborated with the Surgical society (SurgSoc) at the University of Birmingham. Committee members from SurgSoc ran this workshop.

Students were able to also see how surgeons scrub up before theatre! All the equipment on show for this workshop was provided by SurgSoc.

NHS Hot Topics Workshop

This workshop was run by our Vice President, Alex! We covered topics in the NHS that were likely to come up in 2019/20 Medicine interviews.

Feedback from the year 13s on this workshop:

“One of the best of the day!! Really balanced and methodical and easy to follow!”

“Good insight into medical ethics and good presentation delivered with cases relevant to modern medicine and historic medicine.”

The Mock interviews

We ended the conference with a 3-station mock interview.

The 3 stations were based on:

· Motivation to Student Medicine

· Role Play

· Ethics based scenario

Each station was had 2 interviewers who were medical students. The interviews allowed the participants to apply what they had learnt during the day to interview styled questions. The BWAMS committee time managed the interview: 2 minutes for the student to read the station information, 6 minutes for the interview and 2 minutes for feedback. During feedback, the pupils were also provided a feedback sheet containing handwritten feedback so they could take that away with them.

In between sessions BWAMS committee members read personal statements and provided feedback on them. This was something the year 13s really wanted! The emails sent prior to the event to the year 13 asked them to bring their personal statements along with them.

Overall, the conference went really well and was enjoyed by the year 13 students and the medical students who were involved.

The conference would not have been possible without the help of all the medical students who gave up a Sunday to come to the medical school to help run the sessions. We had a total of 68 medical student help out on the day!

If you want to hold a conference at your medical school for widening participation or have any questions, then please feel free to contact us.

Words: Ayesha Ahmed, Dr.eam Senior Conference Chair 2019/20

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