The Making a Difference Awards: Medics in Primary Schools

Fifth year Medical student, Sylvia Osahan was one of many students from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health who were recognised at the latest Making a Difference (MAD) Awards. Sylvia was highly commended for ‘outstanding contribution to widening participation’ thanks to her involvement in the Medics in Primary Schools (MiPS) society. Below, Sylvia discusses all things MIPS and considers what more they can achieve in the future…


What we’re all about

MiPS was not a project I came up with myself, rather a project that I’ve been involved in since my first year. It was set up around a few years prior to my involvement and I am the current leader of the society.

MiPS is an educational widening-participation project that aims to teach local primary school students in years 5 and 6 about basic medicine-related topics. Our project has many sessions including basic life support, asthma, healthy heart and reflexes, to name but a few! We hope that our volunteers can not only educate but inspire these primary school students to consider higher education (and possibly medicine or a life science) in the future.

We typically have 5-6 participants teaching a class with each session lasting for roughly an hour. The sessions take place once every two weeks on a Wednesday afternoon and we use a variety of props to ensure the teaching is never dull. We do this to create a fun and interactive learning environment where important health topics are discussed.

We have a full committee including student coordinators, a schools coordinator, equipment coordinators, an inclusion officer, a treasurer and vice president. MiPS has only been a success thanks to their hard work. The students on the committee span from 2nd to 4th year and many started out volunteering for MiPS themselves!


What we’ve achieved

We have been working with various schools in Manchester delivering our educational sessions for almost ten years. Alongside this, we often provide volunteers or run mini sessions for events that our put on by the Medical School and Access All Areas (part of University of Manchester Students Union volunteering).

As we have always found that the primary schools best engage with sessions which involve interesting equipment, we always make sure we bring useful props with us such as models to practice CPR. That session in particular has always been a firm favourite with a number of different schools.

The main highlights of the project have included the great interest from medical students wanting to volunteer that we have seen this year and the wide reach we have had as a result. We have had around 60 students volunteering for us this year and reached around 150 year 5/6 students in our first semester alone.

Also, recognition in the MAD awards and the Student’s Union awards has been a big highlight! My committee and I were very honoured and grateful for commendation at the MAD awards and we are hopeful that it will encourage even more people to volunteer with us in the future. Everyone has worked so hard and they deserve this recognition!


What we’re going to do

We run this project every year, spanning the course of the academic year and hope to continue doing so for the foreseeable continue. I hope that we can continue delivering our project to the primary schools we are currently working with and hopefully expand and bring it to even more local primary schools so they too can benefit from the educational programme and consider undertaking higher education in the future.

On a personal note, I am about to enter the final year of my medicine degree and hope to become a qualified doctor. However, I do hope that I will be able to continue my involvement in teaching and widening participation throughout my future career.

The society will continue long after my time at Manchester comes to an end, I’m just happy that I got to my play my part while I was here.

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