Breaking barriers: Widening participation in clinical academia through diverse student voices
Our project aim is to promote diversity and widen participation in clinical academia within the UK, thereby fostering a more inclusive and equitable healthcare and academic landscape. Widening Participation (WP) is especially relevant in clinical practice, The British Medical Association has advocated that healthcare professionals should be as representative as possible of the society they serve in order to provide the best possible care to the UK population.
“Breaking barriers” is a ground-breaking podcast project run by students and for students (including prospective students, current undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as newly qualified healthcare professionals) dedicated to addressing important issues of underrepresentation in clinical academia (e.g. dentists, medics, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, pharmacists, and healthcare scientists). We believe that by increasing diversity in these fields, we can significantly improve patient care, clinical research, and education, and ultimately contribute to a healthier and more vibrant society.
Our main objectives are to:
1. Raise awareness
By conducting engaging and insightful interviews with students, experts, professionals, and underrepresented individuals. We aim to discuss the current state of diversity in clinical academia in the UK. We hope that by disseminating this knowledge, we will inspire meaningful conversations and actions towards greater inclusivity.
2. Highlight successful initiatives
By showcasing programmes that have made a positive impact in breaking down barriers for aspiring students from diverse backgrounds. We will spotlight internal and external scholarship programmes, mentorship networks, and other interventions that have proven effective in supporting underrepresented individuals on their academic and professional journeys. Some of these programmes include In2science UK summer programme, the KCL Enhanced Support Dentistry Programme BDS, K+ Dentistry, and others.
3. Promote cultural competence
By emphasising the importance of cultural competence in healthcare and academia. We will feature stories of healthcare providers who have achieved better patient outcomes through cultural understanding. We will also aim to encourage institutions to prioritise diversity in their recruitment and training practices.
4. Empower role models
Our podcast will provide a platform for successful people from underrepresented communities to share their personal stories of overcoming challenges and breaking barriers in their careers. They will serve as inspiring role models for aspiring students, encouraging them to pursue careers in clinical academia.
To assess whether and how the project is meeting the objectives, several evaluation methods will be employed throughout the project duration. These methods will provide insights into the project’s effectiveness, impact, and targets met. This evaluation will include: audience feedback, download and streaming metrics, expert and guest speaker feedback, tracking initiatives and interventions, long-term impact measurement and comparison to objectives.