In2MedSchool provides mentoring for students from disadvantaged areas aspiring to study medicine, launched by Imperial medicine graduate Brian Wang.
In2MedSchool is an outreach and widening participation initiative made up of over 2,500 doctors and medical school volunteers, who want to give back and inspire the next generation of medical students. A 2016 report found that just 4% of UK doctors come from working class backgrounds. The initiative hopes to change this by supporting students from widening participation and historically disadvantaged backgrounds with their journeys into university, focusing specifically on medical school applications.
Alongside a unique 2-year mentoring programme, where each prospective student is allocated a personal mentor to encourage them in their studies towards becoming a medical student, In2MedSchool runs a variety of webinars. Typically, mentors support mentees with the most difficult areas of the medical school application process. This includes the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) and University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), which are specific examinations required to study medicine in the UK; personal statement development and editing; helping to locate work experience and interview preparation.
I have overcome many hurdles in life, and I want to remove those hurdles for others from underprivileged backgrounds to help make medicine more inclusive.Brian WangImperial Medicine Graduate and Junior Doctor
In2MedSchool was founded by Brian Wang, MBBS and PhD graduate from Imperial College London. Currently, Brian is working as an academic foundation doctor at Northwick Park Hospital.
Brian was compelled to form this initiative following his own challenging experiences applying for medical school. He said: “I have overcome many hurdles in life, and I want to remove those hurdles for others from underprivileged backgrounds to help make medicine more inclusive.”
He added: “Throughout my time at medical school, I saw there was a lack of representation in the healthcare workforce. Then, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we all saw the unequal effect it had on our communities, heavily affecting ethnic minorities and individuals from underprivileged backgrounds. This led to news stories such as ‘Is COVID racist?’ and led to many of our communities losing trust in the NHS. I founded In2MedSchool with the aim of changing this.”
Mentorship, personal support and soft skill development
Since their July 2020 launch, over 2,500 junior doctors and undergraduate medics have joined In2Medschool, volunteering their free time and expertise to level the playing field for aspiring medics. The initiative has noticed increasing engagement from their mentees with around 1,000 underprivileged students joining their mentorship programme within their first 8 months. Additionally, the organisation offers free fortnightly webinars, conferences, summer schools and ‘day in the life’ videos covering a range of topics including admission tests and revision material, which hundreds of students attend.
In2MedSchool’s efforts have been recognised and supported by organisations such as the Medical Defence Union, Tesco Bags of Help, and the Royal Society of Medicine.
Due to the organisation's endeavour to diversify the medical field, their eligibility criteria for support encompasses a range of different factors, such as socioeconomic background, having a disability or speaking English as a second language.
Amrinder Bahia, a 2020/2021 Mentee from St. Edmunds Sixth Form said: "My journey so far with In2Medschool has been eye opening as I’ve been provided with so much encouraging advice and useful resources which have enhanced my understanding and determination to become a doctor. This programme has helped me to recognise my talents and it has widened my understanding on the competitive nature of medical school and how I can stand out."
Changing the Mould
The In2MedSchool team and board of directors are keen to continue pushing the growth of the next generation of medical students as well as break down barriers preventing equal opportunities. Their network of sponsors and partners continue to grow, such as being a member of the Inequalities in Health Alliance, a coalition of organisations with an interest in improving the health of the UK. They also won Most Sustainable Project award at the National Widening Participation Conference 2020.
Speaking about his hopes for the future of the NHS, Brian said: “The NHS is the cornerstone of British society – COVID-19 has only highlighted that. At its core is the fundamental belief of equal access to medical care to all, no matter your race, background or wealth. As well as a future in which there is equal access to medical care, there should be equal access to becoming a doctor. This would allow our future NHS workforce to represent the communities it serves.”