Education news

Disadvantaged pupils encouraged to consider medical profession

Pupils from St Malachy's College Belfast at the 2016 event

POST-primary pupils are to quiz doctors and medical students about how to pursue a career in medicine.

The Widening Participation in Medicine event aims to encourage young people from different social and economic backgrounds to consider careers in the profession.

It is part of a broader drive by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The Right Mix report, published by the BMA in 2015, found just 4 per cent of UK medical students came from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

A separate study published in 2016 found that Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion of medical students from the least affluent backgrounds in the UK.

More than 100 pupils from 15 post-primary schools across the north attended the first Widening Participation event last year in Belfast. They took part in interactive mentoring sessions with doctors drawn from multiple specialities, as well as medical students who spoke to them about why and how they entered the medical profession.

Dr John D Woods, chairman of BMA Northern Ireland Council, said it was important to dispel the myth that medical degrees were only open to those from higher socio-economic backgrounds.

"A medical degree and career is open to anyone from any area of Northern Ireland with the right grades and dedication to learn," he said.

"The Northern Ireland health service is in the midst of one of the worst workforce crisis in recent memory. With staffing gaps across all medical specialities, now more than ever we need to encourage and support young people from all backgrounds who have an interest in medicine to apply for a medical degree.

"We hope our Widening Participation event goes some way to inspiring the post-primary pupils attending to take that step."

:: The event will take place at Queen's University Belfast's Riddel Hall on October 10.

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