June 25, 2021, by sbzaj1

50 at 50: Inaugural FMed Conference, May 2021

The University of Nottingham Medical School in Derby

Our Foundation Year to Medicine is delivered at the Royal Derby Medical Centre (A108) and we pride ourselves on providing an environment that nurtures personal development and supports our student transition to Year 1 of their award. The year enables academic and personal relationships to be cultivated while providing students with a safe and inclusive space to encourage interactions and build confidence. Students develop a strong sense of identity that is not just restricted to connections with their current cohort; the bond of being an A108 student extends further with meaningful interactions normally occurring between all years of this course through a buddying system and social activities.

However, Covid-19 restrictions and the move to online delivery of teaching for the 2020/21 cohort of A108 students, with minimal face-to-face contact, has severely impacted upon simply ‘getting to know’ each other. Studies have highlighted that students from widening participation backgrounds often struggle to engage and make advantageous relationships during their early years at university, missing opportunities to increase their social capital during the crucial first few years at medical school. As tutors, we were faced with the dilemma that restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 had the potential to augment this inequality and so provide a major barrier to our ability to foster feelings of belonging and cohort identify.

So, we thought what better way is there to overcome some of these barriers than by organising a conference where students can interact with academics from their Medical school, learn about some of the research that takes place, meet previous foundation year students, and collaborate with students on the Foundation year at Lincoln (A18L). Supported by my colleagues from A108 and A18L, we set about finding ‘volunteers’ to take part in our “Inaugural FMed Conference, 2021”.

The response was fantastic, and we soon had speakers from both Nottingham and Lincoln Medical schools eager to present. The event was a great success with no IT issue thanks to the hard work of Gareth Reith-Hall in setting up and managing the Teams platform. Our final programme covered a wide range of topic areas which I have summarised below along with a few quotes from the delegate evaluation forms since I really feel these capture the positivity around the event.

Prof. Gill Doody welcomed everyone to the event, followed by Dr Aaron Murray, who provided a ‘Virtual tour of the human body’ demonstrating the complete Anatomy 3D software:

“It gave a good insight to future anatomy we will be learning and showed us a really useful tool.”

We then heard from Prof. Alistair Warren who provided an insight into his research and how science can help in the treatment of infertility:

“It was interesting to see current research in areas we have covered in lectures…I learnt a lot of things I didn’t previously know about”

Dr Vincent Wilson next talked about substance misuse drawing upon his personal experiences as a practitioner working in this area:

“Eye-opening and a module I would love to take up in future”

“He was a really relatable speaker and I found it very heartfelt. It was interesting to hear his experiences and he was very passionate.”

Dr Michael Toze presented on the research he is undertaking looking at the impact of Covid-19 upon Older LGBT+ people:

“This was really interesting, I didn’t consider this angle before”

We then had an interactive session from a guest speaker, Dr Martin Khechara (British Science Association and Institute of Biomedical Science Media Fellow 2020-2021) talking about the Art of Communication:

“This was really engaging and it made me think more about how I communicate with patients and doing presentations”

“Definitely will be using the advice in the future”

Dr Mandy Hampshire supported by Lucas Burgess and Ruby Barrick from Nottingham and Rory Howard and Connie Barton from Lincoln, presented on the work of WAMS – Widening Access to Medicine Society.

“This was really interesting and I am now considering applying for a role on committee which I had not considered before”

For me, the highlight of the conference was the ‘Ask the Panel’ session led by Allan Swaby and Dr Max Bodmer. This was as an emotional reunion with students representing every year of the six-year programme and those now qualified, providing words of support and advice to the current A108 and A18L students. We were also joined by representatives from the first A18L intake at Lincoln who are now in their second year of the six-year programme.

“It was nice to hear from all year groups as they all were at different stages of their career. They all felt similar on certain aspects of the course and ease my worries.”

“So emotional loved this”

“So useful!! was lovely to see people who were in our position once achieving amazing things and living the dream”

In the last session, our four A108 course reps (Wiktoria, Caroline, Bothyna and Daniel) delivered a talk on their work around ‘Supporting the development of meaningful connections’. The initiative has been funded by the university Sphere Programme.

“Really highlighted the benefits of their work over the past year”

“I have liked the sessions and activities this year and the course reps did really well with them”

Finally, we also held a poster competition for A108 and A18L students allowing them to gain their first experience of presenting at a conference. The posters and short recorded narratives were excellent and we are very proud of how these students overcame their nerves and submitted an entry. Congratulations to Hamza Latif (A108) and Feba Varghese (A18L) for their winning entries.

A big ‘thank-you’ to everyone involved and I totally agree with this comment from one of the delegates:

“I really hope that this becomes an annual thing …It was a wonderful experience, I learnt so much about a variety of different things and it was nice to hear from other students about their experiences.”

Author: Dr. Sara Smith, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Science, Course Lead Foundation Year to Medicine

Posted in 50 Years of Medicine