On 6th March 2021, Melanin Medics and the University of Birmingham’s African and Caribbean Medics Society (ACMS) hosted the 3rd annual ‘Medical School and Beyond’ conference. Here is an account of the day for all who were unable to join us.
Due to current COVID-19 guidelines, this year’s conference was hosted on Zoom. It was targeted at current African and Caribbean medical students, and aspiring medics interested in different medical career pathways. The conference provided an opportunity to learn how to succeed in the years ahead and to gain insight from experienced medics, especially in these ever-changing times. The goal for 2021 was to explore the different opportunities medics have during and after medical school, and how to thrive in various fields.
The day started off with 30 minute presentations from each of our feature speakers. To kick-start the session, Dr Gabrielle Baptiste spoke about the foundation programme. She was able to answer questions about her own experiences and the ins-and-outs of the applications process. This was swiftly followed by Dr Gabrielle Macaulay, a GP with experience in the NHS and her own private clinic. She gave attendees an insight into how she was able to deal with setbacks and the importance of understanding the system. To give an idea of life in a medical specialty, Dr Leah Simpson spoke about her journey in paediatric medicine. She encouraged students to keep an open mind about future specialty decisions. The final feature speaker was Mr Jonathan Makanjuola, a urologist with international experience. He shared his experiences on deciding to go into medicine after completing a first degree, and his journey to consultant level. The session was rounded up with a panel of all the speakers, and the attendees had the opportunity to ask both personal and general questions.
In the afternoon, the conference continued with workshops. As there were various workshop themes, attendees had the option to choose which they wanted to participate in. Khadija Owusu of Melanin Medics and a representative from Birmingham Widening Access to Medical Sciences (BWAMS) hosted Workshop 1, titled ‘Aspiring Medics’. The aim of the workshop was to give future medics the tools to navigate the application process. In Workshop 2, Ayomide Ayorinde, a final year medical student at Imperial College London, led the ‘Making the Most Out of Medical School’ workshop. She shared her highs and lows of medical school and gave advice about balancing medical school with other aspects of life.
Adanna Anomneze-Collins, a penultimate year medical student at Cardiff University, led the ‘Medicine and Leadership’ workshop, in which she explained how she got involved in leadership opportunities in medical school. She also gave some insight into policymaking and how we can influence medical education. Tony Okafor, a medical student at the University of Nottingham, hosted Workshop 4: ‘MedTech: The Future of Medicine’. He gave us a brief insight into the ‘MedTech’ world, including some information on projects he has been involved in.
To give an idea of medicine outside of the UK, Dr Jude Nzeako, a Trauma and Orthopaedics surgeon, led the ‘Medicine Abroad’ workshop and shared his experiences training in Canada and returning to the UK. The conference also included a pathway completely separate from a medical career. Dr Femi Williamson-Taylor, a junior associate at McKinsey and Company, discussed how he exited medicine in the ‘Leaving Medicine’ workshop. To round off the conference there was a ‘virtual networking’ session in which attendees could ask more questions and get to know the speakers in breakout rooms.
In conclusion, all who attended agreed it was an inspirational and informative day. In spite of the challenging times we are currently facing, the future is still incredibly bright and full of opportunities for aspiring and current medics.