BWAMS is proud to announce that we have (once again!) won the University of Birmingham MedSoc Charity of the Year shield!
Additionally, we have reproduced in full the nomination submitted by our President, Halimah Khalil:
Birmingham Widening Access to Medical Sciences (BWAMS) has made tremendous progress over the last two years and has become a key player working to widen access on a national level. Whilst 2020 has been a turbulent year to say the least, this has not hindered us from achieving our aims and widening participation into healthcare careers.
In February 2020, I organised a Medical Careers Insight Day – our first ever widening access event aimed at Year 10 and Year 11 students considering a career in Medicine. The event featured interactive talks on the medical sciences to practical surgical & clinical skills workshop in collaboration with Birmingham SurgSoc. Planning this event, allowed me to appreciate the impact that expanding our flagship Dr.eam conferences Year 10 and 11 students could have: from broadening students understanding of healthcare careers, assisting with work experience applications and so much more. Hence why, we are currently planning to launch our first ever national conference for Year 10 and 11 students considering healthcare careers!
Due to COVID-19, our face-to-face outreach activities were cancelled indefinitely, including five outreach events scheduled across March and April 2020, which involved approximately 250 secondary school students. To address this issue, a group of BWAMS committee members launched a new widening access Instagram initiative on 18th March 2020: ‘We Are Medics’ which has grown exponentially to become the most popular Instagram account providing advice on the medicine admissions process. With over 10,000 followers on Instagram, We Are Medics, has been leading the way in online widening access with a national committee planning to register as a UK charity.
Since March 2020, BWAMS has transitioned seamlessly to the virtual world. We began by adapting our Healthcare Careers Schools Programme consisting of six lessons designed to complement the national curriculum, to ensure they could be delivered in an engaging format albeit virtually. We also recruited and trained an even larger dedicated volunteer bank of almost 30 Medical and Dental Science (MDS) students, collaborating with African Caribbean Medical Society at Birmingham to further the representation of black medical students. Expanding our committee, recruiting more volunteers and ensuring a sustained online presence has enabled us to reach over 900 students in Birmingham and the West Midlands, through school visits alone.
In Autumn 2020, we delivered Dr.eam Senior – our flagship Medicine admissions conference for Year 13 students as a two-day online event featuring practical workshops, engaging talks and Q&A sessions covering all aspects of the Medicine application process. We had a fantastic 129 students attend from all over the UK attend Dr.eam Senior – over 100 more than in 2019!
In November, we hosted our annual Dr.eam Junior Conference for Year 12 students interested in pursuing a career in Medicine. The virtual event, held on Zoom Webinar, was an overwhelming success, with 848 attendees and 25 incredible speakers delivering a range of inspiring talks, workshops and panels. Opening up the conference to students across the UK led to a 7x increase in registrations seen in 2019! An astounding 1015 questions were answered throughout the day by our conference team and 27 BWAMS volunteers. 98% of students (843) said they would recommend the event to others. When we asked Year 12s before and after Dr.eam Junior to respond to this statement: ‘I understand the process of applying to Medicine at University’ the differences were staggering:
Our conferences are one of a handful in the UK which are completely free for all attendees, and we are delighted that our conference teams have been afforded the opportunity to present their work at the 2020 National Widening Participation Conference and the International Virtual Medical Conference (IVMC) hosted by MedAll.
Over the course of 2020, BWAMS reached over 1900 young people across the West Midlands and beyond. This is almost double the number of students we reached in 2019. We partnered with incredible organisations including CoachBright, Cochrane UK and GROWS Network based in Gloucestershire. We organised and delivered over virtual mock MMI interviews, helping over 50 Year 13 students from disadvantaged backgrounds prepare for their online Medicine interviews and training over 70 medical student volunteers. A questionnaire assessing confidence in interview skills was distributed to all students before and after the circuit. Our analysis should that students demonstrated a statistically significant (p<0.01) increase in confidence in all stations after the circuits, most notably in discussing data interpretation (1.2±0.2), feeling prepared (1.4±0.2), and articulating their motivation for medicine (1.1±0.2).
As a leading WAMS society, BWAMS has been at the forefront of the national conversation regarding widening access to medical school. We have networked extensively with WAMS societies across the UK, providing advice on how to run events similar to ours and sharing resources. Two of our committee members were involved in organising the 2020 Medical Schools Council Widening Participation conference, where we also presented three postersshowcasing our achievements from Dr.eam to hosting our first ever virtual mock MMI interviews. Another committee member was awarded an oral presentation prize in the widening participation category at the IVMC Conference for showcasing our virtual mock MMI interview framework.
Our aim as a society, is not solely to widen participation in Medicine but the medical sciences as a whole. Hence, we look forward to hosting our first ever Dr.eam Dentistry Conference on 20th February 2021 for which we have received over 920 registrations so far, from students nationally in Y10-13 thus far! We have a plethora of exciting ideas and projects lined up for the months ahead, from developing our YouTube channel to hosting a ‘Research Rodeo’ event designed to support current medical students from WP backgrounds in undertaking research.
We would be honoured to receive recognition in the form of a MedSoc award, such an achievement would not only resonate with our committee members and schools’ volunteers, but every single medical student who has devoted their time in some way, shape or form to BWAMS activities across the years. Personally, being part of BWAMS has afforded me many opportunities to develop my leadership and confidence. From teaching, event organisation to leadership opportunities, BWAMS offers tremendous reward to both medical students locally, and state school students nationwide.
Our society, is wholly reliant on students from the college of medical and dental sciences volunteering their time to conduct mock interviews, teach clinical skills and venture out to school visits, to name a few. Thus, a MedSoc award would allow us to engage with even more undergraduate students, ultimately furthering our mission of making healthcare careers more accessible for young people.
I Know I speak for everyone when I say I am incredibly proud of all the challenges we have overcome and all that we have achieved; from the events we have organised and the young people we have reached, in a year which has been exceptionally challenging for us all. Hence, I am nominating BWAMS in recognition of our widening access work both locally and nationally, as well as the success of our volunteers!
Feedback from Dr.eam Junior Attendee 2020:
I didn’t expect this webinar to me as helpful as it was. I enjoyed it so much and was enlightened in so many different ways. Everyone who spoke was passionate and delivered their talks perfectly. I learnt a lot about the application process, UCAS, BMAT and most importantly work experience which I have been worried so much about due to our current situation of COVID. This helped clear up so many questions I’ve been having and has also made me a lot more confident in my choice of taking medicine. I can’t wait to go to university. Thank you so much!!
Words: Halimah Khalil
BWAMS President 2020/21