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Access to Medicine and the Professions

HEE commissions and works in partnership with a variety of organisations to support students from less advantaged backgrounds to successfully apply to medical school, degree-level healthcare programmes and/or apprenticeships.  

All programmes target students that are considered to have widening access and participation backgrounds for example; are care experienced, in receipt of free school meals, reside in a low higher education participation area, and/or, area of high deprivation.  

A full list of initiatives is below: 

Medical Schools Council - summer school programme   

The Medical Schools Council is funded by HEE to run an access programme to support widening access – to raise aspirations and inspire students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine so they can make an informed choice to study at medical school. The aim is to recruit these students so that future generations of medical students, and therefore, doctors, more closely mirror the population they serve.   

The target is for 600 students to go through the Access to Medicine programme in 2021/2022, with locations including hard to reach areas such as the South East, South West, Lincolnshire and the North East and Cumbria.  

Delivery of five teachers and adviser conferences and webinars to learn more about application, admission and studying medicine. Funding also supports the development of a contextual flag that recognises students who have attended and completed outreach activities. The flag UKWPMED (Widening Participation in Medicine) identifies school leavers from socially and/or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds to improve their chances of gaining a place at one of the participating medical schools. UKWPMED has been used this year by a number of medical schools and the Medical Schools Council are monitoring the progress of eligable students through the application process. Underpinning the flag and summer schools is a longitudinal study that will measure impact by the outcomes of the students who have attended the summer school and also the difference to medical school applicants from the schools we have engaged with. 

Future Quest - routes into Medicine and the Professions  

The programme will support 350 learners from years10-13, within deprived areas of the Southwest, directly supporting young people from areas of low participation in higher education who have an interest in medicine, pharmacy, or the allied health professions. This is the first sustained and progressive access outreach intervention HEE has funded which aims to equip young people with the knowledge of higher education and potential future pathways, the understanding of skill requirements for study and future life, and the ability to develop self-reflection, self-awareness and self-belief.  

Included within the ‘routes into medicine and the professions programme’ lead by  Future Quest and funded by HEE is a brand new Future Quest Healthcare website which enables young people to explore different healthcare professions. The website brings together clear information about careers in medicine, pharmacy, and the allied health professions. The website includes interactive activities that introduce young people to these subjects and develops their knowledge, attributes, skills, and confidence and is suitable for use by school staff, parents/carers and also supports access to outreach opportunities nationally. 

Sutton Trust – pathways to medicine   

Managed by Sutton Trust and delivered through Hull-York Medical School (HYMS) Each programme runs for two years, with circa 50 students recruited at the start of Year 12 from locations considered hard to reach and social mobility cold spots across Yorkshire and the Humber region. Content includes skills sessions, e-mentoring, admissions’ support and the opportunity to meet real medical professionals. Programme content is front-loaded in Year 12 so that students may benefit before they complete their UCAS applications and are then able to concentrate on their A-Level examinations 

 Social Mobility Foundation – aspiring professionals programme   

The Social Mobility Foundation is a registered charity that exists to support young people from low-income backgrounds into universities and the top professions. HEE has been collaborating with the SMF since 2014 to deliver the Aspiring Professionals Programme across England focusing areas of deprivation and hard to reach areas such as, Sandwell, Kettering, Nottingham, Liverpool and Doncaster (the 20% of worst performing local authorities identified by the Social Mobility Commission as social mobility cold spots).  

There are three strands to the programme: 

1.    Aspiring Professionals Programme City  

2.    Aspiring Professionals Programme Medicine Residential 

3.    Aspiring Professionals Programme Reach 

Students who live more than 60 minutes from an APP City are prioritised for APP Reach which provides online support open to students who live in remote areas, typically social mobility cold spots.  

HEE is also working with the SMF to pilot a new programme of support for 50 undergraduates from low socio-economic backgrounds at medical school, ‘transitions through medical schools programme’. 

Studying Healthcare Website  

For year 12 and 13 students interested in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy, this website is managed by the Medical Schools Council and funded by HEE, it offers the most timely and accurate information available, as well as access to a wider range of content such as videos, webinars and advice with a particular focus on widening access, by ensuring that students from all backgrounds are supported to make an informed choice to study healthcare at university.  

The new website also includes an outreach hub which enables students, parents and school staff to access events and resources delivered and developed by university health faculties across the UK. Accurate and up to date content (videos, webinars, advice) for all those working with students, information to understand and apply for medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy courses, and a resource section curating existing content from universities, and other providers.

Primary School Activity Book: Being a GP  

This resource has been funded by Health Education England and developed in partnership with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP’s), University of Leeds and Research Toolkit. The website includes interactive PDFs with animation and user guides, designed to help primary school pupils to learn about GPs and what they do. Activities are also designed to support the curriculum and develop pupils’ science, maths and English skills.  

Access to Dentistry  

Access to Dentistry is a new programme for 2021/22. The Widening Access and Participation team at HEE continue to expand and build on the success of the access to medicine programmes, raising aspirations, widening access to professions and increasing diversity.  

The programme consists of a residential dentistry summer schools for 70 students in year 11 and 12 from a widening participation background, as well as online dentistry programme for at least 100 students from a widening participation background targeting areas of deprivation and outreach cold spot activity in the South East, South West, London, and the East of England.