Guest Blog: Dr.eam Big – a healthcare admissions conference for Year 10 and 11 students

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Today on the MDS Outreach blog we have a post, from Anjitha Anilkumar, a medical student at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Widening Access to Medical Sciences (BWAMS) Dr.eam Big 2021 Conference Chair.

On Saturday 15th May 2021, the Birmingham Widening Access to Medical Sciences ( BWAMS) society hosted our first ever Dr.eam Big Healthcare admissions conference for students in year 10/11. The Dr.eam Big Healthcare admissions conference was a half day event, hosted via Zoom Webinar, which aimed to help widen access to healthcare-related university courses. We had over 500 registrations and over 230 attendees on the day.

The day was packed with talks from students studying a range of healthcare courses and healthcare professionals as well as Q & A panels. Our aim was to improve the students’ knowledge of different careers in healthcare and the pathways to applying to healthcare-related university courses. Our previous conferences have all been quite focused on a specific healthcare careers such as medicine or dentistry, but, since this conference was aimed at year 10 and 11 students (14-16 year olds), we decided to showcase a range of healthcare careers and to highlight the importance of the multidisciplinary team to allow our attendees to appreciate the diversity of careers in healthcare.

The Dr.eam Big Healthcare careers conference focused on a multitude of healthcare careers including medicine, dentistry, nursing , occupational therapy, paramedicine and radiography. We had over 10 speakers and panellists at various stages in their journey towards a healthcare career, from students to newly qualified professionals, which helped give the students an insight into both university life and the life of a healthcare professional. Some of our speakers were from widening participation backgrounds themselves and we are sure that the attendees found their stories and experiences inspiring and informative.

I am delighted to have been Dr.eam Big conference chair this year; it was a fantastic experience working with the conference team (Halimah and Alya) to plan the event. We started planning the event in late February, we then took a small break for the exam period and resumed planning again after our exams finished. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dr.eam Big conference was held virtually and this proved to be beneficial as we had attendees from across the UK, a majority of whom were from widening participation backgrounds. In our post conference survey, we asked attendees if they would prefer the event to be in person or virtual and majority were happy with it being virtual as it allowed a greater number of students to attend and the virtual event could be recorded, allowing students to access the information provided later.

One of the highlights of the conference from my perspective was seeing so many young people who were motivated and dedicated towards pursuing a career in healthcare; the students engaged with the talks and Q & A panels throughout the day. We received hundreds of questions and on the day we were able to answer 300 questions just using the chat function alone and many more were answered live in the Q & A panels and during the talks.

We received some excellent feedback from our attendees and here are a few of the comments:

“It was very helpful! All the speakers were kind and helpful, I gathered a lot of information about many different healthcare careers/jobs. The speakers or people answering questions knew about a variety of careers, so I managed to get some really knowledgeable and reassuring answers to any questions I had.”

“I have loved every minute of the conference. I now have a much clearer idea of the many different health care professions out there and the day-to-day life of a post graduate student. I also have a clear insight on how to apply to get into university and how to make my personal statement stand out from the rest of the others, that being with good work experience which the people who spoke have some amazing ideas and will definitely be doing in the future.”

“The event was quite enlightening, and it opened my eyes to the possibilities available in the health sector.”

It was truly heart-warming to read the feedback and 99 % of students said that they would recommend this conference to other students hoping to apply to a career in healthcare. We have no doubt that this conference has inspired healthcare professionals of the future. Dr.eam Big 2021 has been a success and added to the amazing work BWAMS do to widen access to medicine and other healthcare related courses. I am really excited to see the Dr.eam Big conference become a part of the BWAMS calendar in the coming years. Lastly, I would also like to say a huge thank you all the speakers, student volunteers, panellists, the conference team members, and the MDSOutreach team in the College of Medical & Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham whom without, this conference would not have been possible.

By Anjitha Anilkumar, BWAMS Dr.eam Big 2021 Conference Chair

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 (www.bwams.co.uk) or follow us on our social media platforms (Instagram: @bwamsbirmingham, @dreambwams; Twitter: @bwamsbirmingham).

MDS Outreach can be found using the following links:
Web: www.birmingham.ac.uk/MDSOutreach
Twitter: @UoB_MDSOutreach
Instagram: @uob_mdsoutreach
Blog: https://blog.bham.ac.uk/mds-outreach/
Email: MDSOutreach@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Author: Clare Ray

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

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