Leading doctors come to mentor students
Eight leading Lewisham doctors this week met the year 8 and 9 students they are to mentor in a unique programme at St Matthew Academy to raise students' aspirations and increase their chances of getting in to medical school. Attending were consultants from Lewisham hospital, local GPs and medical students from King's College.
This is the second stage in the Growing Doctors programme, a joint initiative by the academy and NHS Lewisham, which is designed to encourage young people from ordinary backgrounds to consider medicine as a career and develop 'Lewisham doctors for Lewisham patients'.
During the first stage of the programme students from Lewisham schools met doctors, visited hospitals and GP practices, discussed complex ethical and medical issues and visited King's College, which operates an extended medical degree programme for inner London students.
Those pupils demonstrating real potential and commitment during that part of the course have now been invited to join an ongoing programme of regular mentoring, tutorials and work placements designed to help with GCSE and A level studies and to prepare students for the medical school selection and interview process. Students will meet their mentor at the event on Monday 20 February, and will stay with this mentor over the next few years. Students will also be practising surgical techniques on hearts, lungs, eyes and kidneys.
'This is the first time anywhere in the world that anyone has tried to get children as young as this thinking about a medical career,' says Dr Daniel Ruta, Lewisham's director of public health. ‘We hope that by getting to them this young we will be able to support them over the next few years to make the right choices and do the hard work necessary to get in to medical school and make it as a doctor.'’
'There are many exceedingly intelligent young people in Lewisham’s schools,' says Ben Smith, head of science at St Matthew Academy, 'but without the family background, connections or expectation they've got very little chance of getting into medical school. This programme will raise these pupils' aspirations and give them the tools they need to compete in a very tough academic environment.'’
Dr Ruta believes encouraging students from Lewisham to aspire to become doctors can only be good for the health of Lewisham people. 'If we can develop a stream of doctors who come from Lewisham they will be more likely to understand and empathise with the issues and problems of Lewisham patients.'