Medical degrees are not just for grammar students, pupils told

Dr Peter Maguire, consultant anaesthetist; Emma Spence and Nora Vegh from Omagh High School; Molly Kerr, and Brian Ojofeitimi from BMA Northern Ireland’s Medical Students Committee

DOCTORS have been dispelling the myth with pupils from non-selective schools that medical degrees are only for those from richer families.

Young people from 14 schools yesterday quizzed doctors about how to pursue a career in medicine.

The British Medical Association Northern Ireland's Widening Participation in Medicine event involved interactive mentoring sessions with doctors who work in various medical specialities.

They were also able to take part in practical demonstrations including punch biopsies using pieces of fruit, measuring blood pressure, suturing (surgical stitches) and using a dermascope and microscope.

In 2015 the BMA's The Right Mix report found that only 4 per cent of UK medical students came from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. A separate study found that Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion of medical students from the least affluent backgrounds in the UK.

Gaelcholáiste Dhoire principal Diarmuid Ua Bruadair said the event was important to help inform pupils about medicine careers before they made vital GCSE subject choices.

"Pupils learn that there is a possible career and they need to make sure that they follow the right path," he said.

"We have a lot of young people who have the ability to do well at GCSE and A-level, so days like this are very important."

Chair of BMA Northern Ireland’s Medical Students committee, Molly Kerr said she was heartened to see so many pupils displaying a genuine interest in learning more about medicine.

"We hope the pupils go back to their schools inspired and, most importantly, empowered to work towards their dreams of becoming a doctor," she said.

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