University of Sheffield programme widens access to medical courses to train more future doctors

A programme launched by the University of Sheffield is widening access for students to study medicine for those from communities with low participation in higher education, living with a disability or care leavers.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:39 pm
Rebecca Cooper, from Aston, and Sanders Sunny, from Manchester, who both came to the University of Sheffield's Medical School through the Widening Participation routes

The graduate-entry programme, launched in September 2019, is designed to widen participation (WP) in areas with low participation in higher education and aims to bolster the numbers of doctors in the region at a time when they are in demand due to medical workforce shortages.

It allows students, such as those with a degree in biomedical science, to use their transferable medical skills and experience to fast-track straight into their second year at The University of Sheffield’s Medical School.

Professor Deborah Murdoch-Eaton, Dean of The Medical School, said: “The most important thing is the students’ influence on the rest of the cohort. Inevitably they bring with them the cultural capital, their breadth of experience, their deep understanding and it completely enriches the whole learning experience for everybody.

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Jonathan Sheridan, 24, one of the graduate entry students who started last September during a clinical skills session with tutor Martin Hague, Clinical Skills and Patients as Educators Manager.

“This is collaborative and what Sheffield is about, they work together and support each other because basically that is what medical practice is.”

Over 100 people applied for just 15 places and each successful applicant was granted a scholarship towards their fees.

Qualified pharmacist Sanders Sunny, 24, is on the graduate entry medicine course. He said: “Going into second year with 250 people you’ve never met before is intimidating but being the professionals or doing the courses we’ve already done gave us the skills to be more sociable and allowed us to talk to people easier.

“We bonded as a group and had that support network we needed from the university to know we weren’t alone.”

Similar schemes are available, including the Discover Medicine programme which works with schoolchildren from WP backgrounds to ensure they can successfully apply for medicine.

Rebecca Cooper, 21, a third year student who came through the undergraduate route, said: “I didn’t really know what medicine was, I know it sounds daft but some schools push you to be an engineer or doctor but at mine they taught us that we could be whatever we wanted to be, nothing too courageous. It gets you thinking more and thinking you actually succeed at medicine.”