14 November 2014

Hull York Medical School outreach project highlighted in excellence report

An ‘introduction to medicine’ activity organised by students at Hull York Medical School (HYMS) has been chosen as a case study displaying good practice by the Medical School Council.

The case study is highlighted today in A Journey to Medicine: Outreach Guidance, published by the Medical Schools Council’s Selecting for Excellence project with support from the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).

Offering advice on outreach and fair access activity at medical schools, the guide reveals the core concepts necessary to build valuable outreach programmes so prospective students can get an insight into medicine. The Hull York Medical School’s ‘Emergency Room’ experience is highlighted as a successful outreach activity.

Aimed at students in Years 7 and 8, pupils are introduced to ‘Lucy’ – a virtual patient and the victim of a road traffic accident. Complaining of pain in her chest, abdomen and lower back, students are tasked with saving Lucy’s life with the support of medical student guides, academics and digital material. Working out the tests necessary to treat Lucy under a time limit, students learn about the heart, abdomen and brain as her condition is updated and a treatment plan is decided upon.

To take part in the activity, priority is given to students identified as high achieving by their school but with no history of higher education in the immediate family, students living in local authority care and also those eligible for free school meals. Post-activity feedback shows that 90 percent of students said their understanding of medicine had improved, and 80 percent said their interest in the subject had grown.

Dr Andy Kardasz, Senior Teaching Fellow in Medical Education at HYMS and leader of the project, said: “Lucy, a virtual patient used with our ‘Emergency Room’ event for years 7 and 8 has been very popular with local pupils and teachers for a number of years. We are delighted that it has been selected as best practice by the Medical Schools Council. We have a strong tradition of promoting medicine as a career in the local area, in particular with under-represented groups accessing higher education, which we hope to build on in the future.”

Professor Tony Weetman, Chair of the Selecting for Excellence Executive Group, said: “A candidate’s journey to a medical degree starts long before the UCAS application is made. The commitment in terms of hard work and academic achievement is of course essential, but before that must come the awareness that studying medicine is an option. That realisation does not come readily to all potential candidates, be they school students or mature learners, and we know that one’s background will play a central part here.

“Medical schools cannot leave potentially excellent candidates to learn this message on their own; they have a responsibility, where possible, to reach out to these people and show them first-hand that a career in medicine is for anyone with the ability and commitment. There are effective outreach programmes being used to achieve this and A Journey to Medicine details their methods so that great ideas can be shared and further work encouraged.”