The BSMS Virtual Work Experience (VWEX) programme has been shortlisted as a finalist for the UK Social Mobility Awards 2020.
The programme has been shortlisted in the Innovation Category of the Awards. The aim of the VWEX was to provide students that do not have social capital, the opportunity to engage in medicine-related work experience. Since the launch of the VWEX at the end of January 2020, the course has seen over 20,000 participants from across the globe sign up, with over 3,400 submitting reflective pieces to be reviewed by the Outreach Team.
One of the main concerns aspiring medics, particularly from deprived areas, share, is their perceived lack of “clinical” work experience. The VWEX strives to provide the insights into medicine while encouraging participants to reflect on their extra-curricular activities to demonstrate the required skill set. It aims to instil both confidence and knowledge. Participants completed a pre and post course survey enabling us to assess their attitudes to see how the course benefited them. We found that participants that completed the course had increased level of confidence especially when asked “I feel confident I have enough of an insight into medicine to make an application”. We also found that the greatest increased in confidence was seen among participants from the most deprived areas around the UK.
To gauge the socioeconomic status of the participants we looked at the Index of Mass Deprivation (IMD) from the postcodes that they submitted. Looking at participants based in England (n = 6,080) we found that 1,100 participants resided in the most deprived areas (IMD deciles 1 and 2) had accessed the VWEX compared to 1,537 participants from the most affluent areas (IMD deciles 9 and 10).
Feedback from the programme has provided us with some insights into the participants that it has benefited. Quotes included:
“The programme unlocked an experience which I may never have had due to my ongoing caring responsibilities and the restriction this has on my ability to participate in such programs”
“…Not a case of who you know- to be able to get some hospital/healthcare related work experience.”
The virtual Awards will take place on Thursday 8 October. Further information can be found here: https://www.somo.uk/2020-finalists/