Budding young medics thriving in north Wales
A programme for budding young medics has helped school-age children in north Wales go on to study medicine successfully at university.
The Seren Medics programme began in 2016 and medical professionals at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd have worked with Year 12 and 13 pupils from local state schools to help them with their medicine and dentistry university applications.
The initiative has returned to face-to-face learning with 2019 being the last school year before the pandemic when 100% of learners who completed the programme still received an offer to study Medicine at university.
This year, 40 year 12 students have enrolled at the programme at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and it has expanded to Flintshire and Gwynedd, with a programme for prospective Dentistry students now delivered across north Wales too.
Young people on the scheme attend up to 15 sessions per year, plus a week of work experience and activities include group work, lectures, mock tests and interview practice.
Several dozen volunteers give their time to support the programme, including consultants, medical students and administration staff.
Dr Dan Menzies, a respiratory consultant at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, said: “The scheme has been going since 2016-17, when my colleagues and I were keen to support local children who wanted a career in medicine.
“We realised there was a gap between the opportunities for children attending private schools and local comprehensives and we saw this programme as a way of closing the gap.
“This programme is delivered by our junior doctors out of goodwill and altruism – we have senior doctors helping junior doctors, together helping the doctors of the future.
“It’s fantastic to see the young people blossom and we really want them to achieve all they are capable of.”
The Welsh Government initiative aims to help Wales’s brightest state-educated learners achieve their full academic potential and enter leading universities in Wales, the UK and overseas.
Around 22,000 learners in years 8 to 13 are currently participating in Seren and last year half of all participants went on to study a science, technology, engineering or mathematics, or ‘STEM’ subject at university.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, said: “It’s brilliant that clinicians are passing on their knowledge and passion for medicine on to young local people.
“This is a fantastic example of how clinical staff can work with the local community to share their expertise with young people, many of whom I hope will go on to practice in north Wales.
“I’m also looking forward to the Seren Medics programme working with other health boards across Wales.”
The programme is underpinned by substantial course information and handbooks for both students and faculty, making it replicable anywhere in the country and the entire syllabus is available via Microsoft Teams.
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, added: “Seren is a fantastic scheme which has had tremendous success in helping our brightest young people get into some of the best universities in the world.
“This is a great example of how our Seren programme is not only helping young learners flourish, it’s providing a real benefit for local communities by helping to nurture the doctors and dentists of the future.
“We will always need highly skilled medical professionals and this is a great way to help our brightest learners get onto the best degree programmes and into rewarding careers in medicine.”
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