This guest blog is written by Monique Wheatle, a Medical Student at the University of Birmingham and co-founder of the African Caribbean Medical Mentors organisation.
Who I am and what I do:
My name is Monique Wheatle, and I’m a graduate entry medical student at the University of Birmingham. I previously studied Biomedical Science at UoB. During my Biomedical science degree, in June 2017, I have co-founded an organisation called African Caribbean Medical Mentors (ACMM). In light of current circumstances, I wanted to write about the work we do to widen participation within medicine and dentistry.
About my work:
ACMM is an organisation which aims to realise the potential of current and future doctors and dentists of African and Caribbean descent. I co-founded this organisation alongside Shikila Edward as we felt as though there was a lack of support for students entering these fields. We also saw the need to create a space for positive representation of black doctors and dentists within the healthcare service. Ourselves and many of our colleagues had not seen a doctor or dentist that looks like us and we could relate to, which is also something we hope to achieve with ACMM.
What we have achieved so far:
We have been running a mentoring scheme for 3 years, which has supported over 150 students in their UCAS applications to either medicine or dentistry. We have run outreach sessions in a number of schools or sixth forms to unlock the potential of students who may be capable of entering the healthcare profession. We run annual workshops to support prospective students applying to medicine or dentistry, and inspirational events for our current community to get involved and support students.
We have also had the chance to work with some very exciting people. We worked with Lambeth Council at an Aim High event to inspire Caribbean students to professional careers. We frequently work with the BMA to ensure that policies are made to include all students, and have been involved in a number of round-table discussions to widen participation and improve equality, division and inclusion provisions within the healthcare sector. Recently, we have been featured on ITV News to discuss the disproportionate number of BME individuals who were dying from the Covid-19 pandemic. There is always a lot going on which is testament to why this is so needed.
How people can get involved:
For current medical/dental students or healthcare professionals, signing up to be an ACMM ambassador is the best way to get involved. You can do so by following this link:
Highlights and lowlights of running an organisation:
The highlights are definitely meeting students who have been successful in their applications, and hearing feedback from mentors and ambassadors who have enjoyed the experience. Knowing we are actively making an impact to so many people is hugely rewarding. The hardest parts are finding time, and also the consistency of it. My to-do list for ACMM never ends, and that is even with a core team of 15 amazing colleagues who support our vision. Staying motivated can sometimes be hard when we get set-backs, but the rewarding nature and the chance to make real differences always makes it worthwhile.
By Monique Wheatle
A huge thanks to Monique for all the time and effort she put into writing this blog and more importantly the work of ACMM.
Find out more about African Caribbean Medical Mentors using the following links:
ACMM website: https://www.acmedicalmentors.co.uk
MDS Outreach can be found using the following links: