Guest Blog: DR.EAM Junior Virtual Widening Participation Conference 2020

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Today on the MDS Outreach blog we have a post, from Louise Griffin, an intercalating medical student, member of Birmingham Widening Access to Medical Sciences and Dr.eam Junior Conference Chair.

On Saturday 28th November 2020, Birmingham Widening Access to Medical Sciences (BWAMS) society hosted their 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 speakers delivering a range of inspiring talks, workshops and panels.

The Dr.eam Junior Conference is part of BWAMS’ flagship series of free conferences, which provide the opportunity for state school students to gain an insight into Medicine and healthcare careers.

As conference chair this year, I set about planning the conference back in August 2020. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it quickly became evident that Dr.eam Junior would look a little different this year. Consequently, myself and my conference team set about moving the conference online for the first time since its creation three years ago. In addition, we opened up the conference beyond Birmingham, to state school students across the UK.

Though a virtual, larger conference brought along its fair share of unique challenges, moving a conference of this nature online opened up a world of possibilities for our potential outreach to students, particularly those from Widening Participation (WP) backgrounds. Even before the impact of COVID-19, students from WP backgrounds were increasingly isolated in ‘cold spots’ (1) with no outreach opportunities. Our team identified that previous recommendations by the MSC for greater digital outreach were now a necessity (2) and could further the reach a Widening Access society, such as ourselves, could achieve.

The conference was a free, one-day event, hosted on Zoom Webinar and ran from 9am to 4:30pm. The day comprised of a morning of talks and panels, followed by an afternoon of workshops and further panels. A range of 25 incredible doctors and medical students from across the UK spoke at the conference, sharing inspiring stories and delivering informative sessions for attending Year 12 students. For a full list of talks, panels and workshops, please see below.

We were overwhelmed and humbled by the attendance and engagement from attendees – opening up the conference to students across the UK led to over a 10x increase in registrations seen in 2019! Maximum concurrent viewing reached 720 students, with an astounding 1015 questions answered by our conference team and 27 BWAMS volunteers.

Most importantly, we have received heart-warming feedback from attendees, sharing the impact Dr.eam Junior has had for them on a personal level. 98% of students (843) said they would recommend the event to others, serving as a huge encouragement for the future of online WP initiatives.

Here are a few comments left by students (to make you smile!):

“The event exceeded all my expectations and it has been fundamental for me to understand better the dynamics my future is based on”

“It was super enjoyable and very interactive, it was definitely worth attending the whole day since all the information was really useful and I loved it!!”

“You have provided a real insight into the flexibility and huge scope of opportunities of medicine. I was doubting whether medicine was for me with all the anxieties about whether I could do it, and now I am 100% set on applying to medicine.”

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who was involved in Dr.eam Junior this year. Thank you to all students who attended the event. Thank you to the BWAMS volunteers who helped the smooth running of the Webinar. Thank you to our speakers who gave up their time to share their insight and knowledge. Thank you to Dr Clare Ray and Tom Syder for their continued support. Thank you to my amazing conference team, Halimah Khalil, Alya Khashaba, Kiran Kaur and Gar Mun Lau, who worked so hard over the past few months to make Dr.eam Junior the success it was!

To find out more about BWAMS and the work we do to widen access into Medicine and healthcare degrees, take a look at your website ( or follow us on our social media platforms (Instagram: @bwamsbirmingham, @dreambwams; Twitter: @bwamsbirmingham).

The future of Widening Participation is certainly looking bright!

by Louise Griffin, BWAMS Dr.eam Junior Conference Chair 2020/21

Conference Schedule
Talks: Day in the life of a doctor (Dr Yasmine Oumellil), Stories on the Frontline (Dr Eleanor Lister), Journey into Medicine (Dr Enam Haque, Dr Hannah Delmas), Introduction to Widening Participation (Dr Clare Ray), Doctoring with a Disability (Dr Molly Hunt interviewed by Usman Raja)

Panels: Life Beyond Medicine (Dr Amile Inusa, Dr Sophie Redlin, Dr Mohammad Farwana, facilitated by Mirna Elghobashy), Medical Students Q&A (Lizzie Daly, Nikki Nabavi, Halimah Khalil, Lorraine Afrane, facilitated by Kiran Kaur), Representation in Medicine (Semilore Adebayo, Olamide Dada, Mariyum Islam, Dr Duncan McGregor, facilitated by Lucas Sheridan-Warbuton)

Workshops: Insight into Surgery (Lewis Hall, Dr Samuel Bennett), Navigating the Medicine Application Process (Kirsty Morrison and Vaibhi Dua from wearemedics), Evidence Based Medicine (Selena Ryan-Vig and Lynda Ware from Cochrane UK), Medical Ethics (Wentin Chen, Jun Yu Chen and Luke Zhu from AspireMEd)

1. Office for Students. Coronavirus Briefing Note, Supporting disadvantaged students through higher education outreach [internet]. 2020 [cited 2020 November 10]. Available from:
2. Medical Schools Council. Implementing Selecting for Excellence, A progress update [internet]. 2016 [cited 2020 November 10]. Available from:


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Author: Clare Ray

Clare Ray is the College of Medical and Dental Sciences lead for Outreach and Widening Participation.