(Ellie at Number 10 Downing Street)
Why was visiting number 10 and meeting with Mr Ughwujabo important? What did you get out of it?
Ellie: The meeting at No 10 gave us to chance to get advice from someone in government about how we could improve our efforts to increase the number of BAME medical students in UK medical schools. Overall, I found the experience of visiting No 10 Downing Street to be very inspiring. I learnt that we should strive to give back wherever we can and that in order to do this effectively, we would need to undergo a program of self-development by attending leadership and public speaking courses as well as strive to attain positions such as medical directors where we could effect meaningful change.
Eniola: I learnt from Mr Ughwujabo that our readiness to help others on to the career ladder as we climb up rather than pulling it up when we reach the top is important. He emphasised the importance of us sharing our experiences directly with younger BAME students and encouraging those applying to medical schools by mentoring them. He challenged each of us to help at least five students get into medical school.
Amisha: Initially it was strange to be at no 10 Downing Street. However, Mr Ughwujabo ensured that the meeting generated an open discussion and enabled opportunities for all members to discuss personal experiences and express opinions. I learnt that there are very few BAME medical directors in the NHS and that it was important to take up positions of leadership in the future, as this is where we would be able to influence policies from the top and effect change that could potentially deal with some of the race disparity issues that had been raised in the conversation.
Jess: One of the insights I gained at the meeting was the importance of attending NHS board meetings, even as medical students. This way, we can learn about policies that could potentially deal with some of the race disparity issues that we currently face. I am really happy that I had the opportunity to talk directly with someone high up in government and the advice given will ultimately have a positive effect on future patient care. At No 10 Downing Street, each of us had our names at our assigned seats, which solidified that feeling for me: “I’m supposed to be here”.
So, what are the next steps?
Ellie: We are part of a peer support group called Inception and our goal is to continue to support BAME students by assisting them with the application process to medical school. With advice and guidance from senior doctors, we intend to support newly qualified BAME doctors up until they become Consultants
Jess: Since the meeting, I have also been a part of Inception and I have encouraged current BAME medical students at King’s (by word of mouth) to join. Alongside this, I currently work with the Widening Participation Department at King’s as a Student Success ambassador, which focuses on increasing the number of underrepresented students applying to university. In my role, I interact with a range of BAME school students and encourage them to think about careers in medicine.
Amisha: We intend to work as a team to generate methods to increase the number of BAME students, and individually mentor and support keen students interested in pursuing medicine as a career. We also want to further extend ways in which BAME junior doctors can be supported through their career progression.
Lizzy: We want to not only support students applying for medical school and those who are already in medical school but doctors all the way up to Consultants. I intend to continue to help other students get into medical school. I might also get into policymaking and perhaps do a masters in policy and management after medical school.
Eniola: We had all been mentoring other students individually but have now come together to pool resources. Ultimately, I will be doing all I can to help with the target of helping five students into medical school. We want to expand our network throughout the rest of the UK.
Ellie: It was very exciting to be at No 10 Downing Street! This was a place that I had only seen on television or from a great distance from behind gates and to see it up close and go through the black door is something I will always remember. We got very useful advice from Mr Ughwujabo, some of which we have started applying - such as having a support group for BAME students in medical school. We are looking forward to exploring other sources of support and advice from the university in order to increase the number of BAME medical students at Kings and other medical schools in the UK.