Some people climb the ladder and then kick it down below them, whilst others climb it and help like-minded individuals up it after them. Medical student, Charlotte Auty, certainly fits in to the latter category. Charlotte grew up on a council estate in Wakefield and is the first member of her family to study at University, and she’s taken it upon herself to help teenagers in a similar boat on to medical degrees. Find out how below…
As a 4th year medical student currently intercalating in Neuroscience, it’s fair to say I’ve got a pretty hectic schedule. Throw in the fact that I’m the president of the Manchester Outreach Medics Society and I’m literally spinning plates! Thankfully, I have an amazing team behind me who are always willing to help should I ever feel out of my depth.
The society aims to get kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider a career in medicine. Due the amount of different things that you need to do to become a successful medical applicant, people from higher socioeconomic backgrounds are generally much more prepared. This can be put down to a number of factors including parents having funds available for extra courses or simply just having other family members who have studied medicine who can pass on vital information.
We believe every young person from every sort of family should be presented with an equal chance of getting accepted in to medical school. As a doctor you are going to be helping all sorts of people from different backgrounds so it’s only right that we have doctors who have come from disadvantaged backgrounds so they can relate to those patients.
My passion for this comes from my own experience as a child. Growing up in a council estate in Wakefield I was lucky enough to be given a scholarship from a private high school. As I continued to grow in that private school it always bugged me that I was the only one out of 200 primary school kids to be selected. Why should I get this opportunity at a school where its students are pushed in to higher education whilst those 199 other kids probably aren’t even thinking about university?
At MOMs, we work mainly with Year 12’s who want to study medicine at university and invite them to a medical admissions event to teach them about the process of applying for medicine. We then pass their details onto MedReach who provide a 1 on 1 mentoring scheme for Year 13s, and take them all the way through the application into University, including interview training. This way, they get all the necessary information but without having to pay anything and without having to hope that older family members also studied at higher education. We also work alongside the ‘Making Medicine Accessible’ society to help make year 9 students think about medicine.
The Student Union is so supportive – they have specific sections dedicated to helping volunteers run projects just like this. The support and funding from ‘Access All Areas’ at the SU makes all of our work possible; we run completely for free and we wouldn’t be able to do it without this support. In addition the SU, the Widening Participation team leads at the medical school both really understand what WP is about and what the problems are, so they helped out a lot with funding. We have a couple of meetings per semester to catch up on where we are with certain events and to see if we need any help. They really support me when I need more volunteers or more money, or if I want to set up a specific session or activity; no job is huge for them.
The best part of being the president of MOMs is when you realise your work is paying off. I was at the Medics Fresher’s Fair earlier in the year to promote the society and get new volunteers, when a pupil approached me who had been to one of our events when she was in Year 12 – she said she wouldn’t have got into Medicine without us. Just knowing that our hard work is paying off, even with just one student, makes it all worthwhile and motivates us to carry on.