BMA Scotland has launched a digital booklet aimed at supporting Widening Participation in medicine and encouraging those with the potential to study medicine to regard a career as a doctor a reality, irrespective of their background and socio-economic circumstances.
Currently, although there are efforts to increase gender parity and ethnic diversity among UK doctors, a lack of people from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds entering the profession is still a reality.
Muz Ahmad is a final year medical student at the University of Edinburgh – she says if it hadn’t been for Widening Participation programmes, she may not have made it there at all.
“I went to a school where not many kids were expected to go to university – let alone study medicine, so there really wasn’t a pathway to assist me in the process. I had no clue at the time how difficult it would be to apply, and my guidance teachers, supportive as they were, had no insight into what I needed to do for interviews, work experience, University Clinical Aptitude Testing – no one in my school had previously pursued a career in medicine, at least during their time there.
“I joined a Widening Participation programme in Glasgow and I’m so thankful that I did. It provided me with the mentoring and assistance I needed to apply to medical school, and gave me guidance on networking in order to secure myself some work experience in a hospital – something I really needed before applying so that I could understand the reality of working as a doctor. I am so thankful for initiatives like these, and it’s why BMA Scotland’s Widening Participation booklet is so important, and so beneficial to school kids who come from similar backgrounds to me – in schools where students generally aren’t expected to go to university, those who do intend to pursue higher education have limitations and barriers to applying which can make the process incredibly daunting. Widening Participation programmes provide the support that so many kids need to realise their dreams.
“I am now in my final year at Edinburgh medical school; sometimes I feel some imposter syndrome but when I feel I have made a difference to a patient’s experience I know this is the right path for me. We need medics from diverse backgrounds to represent different groups and understand our future patients on a deeper level. I look forward to taking all these experiences I have learned during my formative years at school and university, and applying them in my everyday practice as a junior doctor.”
Lewis O’Connor, chair of the BMA’s Scottish Medical Students Committee, said: “Generally, across the UK, medicine and being a doctor has been traditionally viewed as a career for the elite or privileged in society – but that needs to change. There are so many young people from diverse backgrounds who have the potential to be great doctors; they just don’t have the support or options available to them, and that is where I hope BMA Scotland’s Widening Participation booklet will help.
“It is so important that we encourage those with the potential to study medicine to regard it as a realistic option – it doesn’t matter where you come from. Distributing this booklet to schools across Scotland will act as another step in the right direction, to remove the barriers that prevent so many from choosing a career in medicine.”