Widening Access to Medicine

26 April 2018

Image of the WAMS team

Medical students at Cardiff University have introduced a scheme to support local school pupils who dream of becoming a doctor.

Led by medical student David Lawson, and supported by the School of Medicine, the Widening Access to Medicine Scheme (WAMS) has over 100 medical student volunteers, trained in mentoring, going into over 26 schools across Wales.

Since the schemes inception, 200 pupils have already been given support with their applications and interviews, and more schools are being engaged all the time. Given that Cardiff University medical students train all over Wales, this gives many communities access to the scheme.

Applicant numbers from Wales for the conventional 5-year medical degree, although stable, are lower per capita than the rest of the UK. This is significant because the General Medical Council has suggested that those students who study in their own region are more likely to then work in the same area. This could help to address medical staff shortages presently affecting parts of Wales.

Coming from a state school in Cardiff, with the intention of working in Wales, medical student David Lawson is passionate about the issue of widening access for pupils and realized that a little help from students who are already placed across Wales could make a huge difference in the applications from Welsh-domiciled students.

David said: “I hope that the support provided will give school pupils from across Wales confidence with their applications and interviews and ultimately improve the success rate in these applications. I hope that one day in Wales a career in Medicine is achievable to all those suitable, regardless of their school and home town.”

Professor Dave Wilson, Chair of the School of Medicine’s Admissions Group is very positive about the student-led initiative that will hopefully provide encouragement to pupils to consider applying to medicine. He added: “Cardiff University’s School of Medicine works hard to help those with the potential to study medicine, providing relevant information and support to medical applicants. Although this has been ongoing, activity has increased as the need to do so has become more apparent.

“Our students are our best ambassadors, and are keen to share their own experiences with others to ensure that they put together a successful application. With a clear need for more Welsh pupils to consider medicine as a career, we hope that this will bolster numbers, and we will see more Welsh applications to study medicine.”

As a direct result of these engagement programmes, the number of Welsh students studying medicine at Cardiff University is now growing.

Dr Stephen Riley, Dean of Medical Education at the medical school, said: “Welsh students compete well during the admissions process, with 60% of those getting an interview being offered a place. With around 50% of Welsh pupils applying for medicine in Cardiff, the challenge is not only to grow the number of Welsh students applying for medicine, but also the number applying to study medicine in Wales.”