In 2023, the Wesleyan Foundation launched a new initiative to support under-privileged students hoping to work in medicine or healthcare.
The Foundation provided £100,000 in funding to Aston University, to support two cohorts of students throughout the 18-month Wesleyan Pathway to Medicine and Healthcare Programme.
In this blog, our very own Jacob Ayre, Community and Citizenship Manager at Wesleyan, catches up with Aston University’s pathway team to reflect on the experiences of students who took part in the pathway during 2023.
The Wesleyan Pathway to Medicine and Healthcare Programme recruits students from low-income households who attend schools in areas with high levels of deprivation.
The programme aims to help remove barriers and enable young people to attend university by providing additional support, mentoring and insights into different professions.
The team at Aston recently shared with me the great success of the first year of delivering the pathway, with 106 students taking part. Our initial cohort of students were in year 12, at either sixth form or college.
All students were given regular mentoring, revision support and help with applying to university. On top of this, students have attended a host of events designed to give them a taste of university life, as well as a career in medicine or healthcare.
The events included:
NHS Allied Professionals Day
This is an event I was lucky enough to attend. It included speakers from across the medical and healthcare professions. Each profession highlighted different career routes you can take, aside from traditional hands-on medicine-focused roles – for example, working in a technology company.
There was also a Q&A panel with healthcare and medical student ambassadors who shared their experience of studying either medicine or healthcare. The students told me first-hand how supportive the pathway programme was, particularly in the areas of revision support and the opportunities to experience different career options.
Student who participated in the NHS Allied Professionals Day - "The Q&A with students who attend university was amazing. Hearing their first-hand experiences was really insightful. It was also great to listen to people from different sectors, such as tech, and to understand how it relates to healthcare. It really helped to open my mind to other aspects of the medical field."
Medicine Taster Day
The Medicine Taster Day is an opportunity for pathway students to spend a day in the medical suite at Aston University. They spend the day talking to student ambassadors and lecturers, as well as attending workshops they would complete on their course.
The tasks were very eye-opening with students being able to complete exercises like taking blood from an artificial arm.
Student who participated in the Medicine Taster Day - "This hands-on experience has allowed me to know what to expect at university. The insight into the different pathways into medicine was really useful, and talking to current students about their experiences was amazing. The range of simulation activities also helped me to understand how broad the field of medicine is."
The Summer School is a fantastic opportunity for students to get a taste of university life, including spending a week on campus, attending lectures and workshops, and living in a hall of residence.
For some students, this was the first time they had stayed away from home, and from the feedback, it’s clear that the event was a success.
Student who attended the Summer School - "Thank you so much for your hard work preparing the Summer School. I genuinely had so much fun – I wish it lasted longer! It has helped me so much in deciding what I want to do. Every lecture I went to and each challenge we completed was so insightful."
It was great to hear the difference that the pathway programme is making, and how it is helping students start their journey into a career in medicine or healthcare.
I look forward to seeing how the students’ journeys progress in the final year of the programme, and seeing the second cohort begin theirs.