BWAMS is proud to announce that we won the University of Birmingham MedSoc Charity of the Year shield!
Additionally, we have reproduced in full the nomination submitted by our President, Kirsty Morrison:
Birmingham Widening Access to Medical Sciences (BWAMS) has made huge progress in achieving its aims over the last two years. From launching new events and developing a new outreach program to working on a more national level, the society has gone from strength to strength.
In December 2018, I led of a team of 4 medical students to organise Dr.eam Junior – our first ever widening access conference, aiming to compete with commercial Medicine admission courses. I planned the day based on my experiences attending a similar event, ‘Vision’ at Imperial, when I was in sixth form. We spent hours planning the event and were hugely disappointed when only around thirty students arrived on the day. But we did not give up on our goals. Instead, we invested more hours in planning, expanded our committee and recruited more volunteers. We designed a targeted recruitment campaign and increased our online presence – building a new website (www.bwams.co.uk) and developing our social media platforms. As a result, this year we expanded Dr.eam to include a Junior and a Senior event – covering both Year 12s and Year 13s.
In Autumn 2019, we had 35 students attend Dr.eam Senior, and a fantastic 104 attend Dr.eam Junior. Our conferences are one of a handful in the UK which are completely free for all attendees, and we are delighted we could provide this opportunity to a total of 139 young people – over 100 more than in 2018! Moreover, the feedback we received from young people after the event was fantastic. Over 90% of Dr.eam Junior attendees agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoyed the conference, found it useful, and found the information relevant. When we asked Year 13s before and after Dr.eam Senior to respond to this statement: “My medicine application is competitive, and I think I am likely to be offered at least one interview," the differences were phenomenal:
Over the course of 2019 BWAMS reached over 1000 local young people, across the West Midlands and beyond. This is more students than ever before. We designed six new session plans to be delivered in schools to complement the National Curriculum, and recruited and trained a dedicated volunteer bank of 20 Medical and Dental Sciences (MDS) students. We visited 14 schools, delivered over 100 mock interviews for Access to Birmingham students, and partnered with other fantastic social mobility charities, including ‘Vision’ at Imperial, the National Healthcare Carers Conference and CoachBright. We now also have a working relationship with Cochrane UK, who teach evidence-based medicine to young people and who have delivered this teaching at our events. I know I speak for everyone in BWAMS when I say we are hugely proud of the number of events we run, the organisations we collaborate with, and, most importantly, how many students we reach.
We have also worked at a national level, as a leading WAMS society, fostering collaboration in the field of widening access across UK medical schools. BWAMS set up a national Facebook group to connect medical students working in widening participation from across the UK, and we have published several blogs offering advice for other medical students on how to start a WAMS, and how to run events similar to ours. Two of our committee members were involved in organising the 2019 Medical Schools Council Widening Participation conference, where we also presented a poster calling for increased collaboration between WAMS societies. Our poster presentation was awarded the runner’s up prize, and two of our committee members have been selected to join the National Medical Schools Widening Participation Forum, as treasurer and publicity representatives. Finally, we have successfully submitted a motion to be brought to the BMA Medical Students Conference, lobbying for medical students from widening participation backgrounds to be able to access free conference tickets. BWAMS is representing students from the University of Birmingham on a national level and is a key player in the national conversation regarding widening access to medical school.
However, behind the numbers and the rising national presence of our work, what drives all of us is the impact our volunteering has on the futures of young people across the West Midlands. Seeing students faces light up when they see themselves represented amongst current medical students, discussing barriers we faced during the admission process and how we overcame them, and finally, reading the heart-warming feedback we receive after our events, including comments such as: “it was engaging and educating and fitted me perfectly.”
BWAMS offers so much to the local community, but I also know it offers a huge reward to our volunteers and committee members. Leadership opportunities, event organisation and teaching experience are just a handful of examples of benefits to our society members. I know, personally, that being part of BWAMS has introduced me to so many opportunities throughout my time at Birmingham and has developed my leadership and confidence. Across 2019-20, these benefits have been available to more MDS students than ever before, with more events translating into more volunteering opportunities for students. Finally, this year we have fostered collaboration with other MedSoc societies, offering relevant volunteering opportunities to their members, such as working with SurgSoc to deliver surgical skills teaching at our conferences.
I want to nominate BWAMS in recognition of the work we achieve with local young people, and the success of our volunteers!
“Everybody today was really friendly and so helpful. Everyone was willing to answer all of our questions and the day covered so many useful parts of the application process! Thank you for today!” Feedback from a Dr.eam Senior 2019 attendee