This study day in Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, run on 8 June for the first time by St John's, was attended by 55 Year 12 pupils from 31 state schools across the UK. Pupils travelled from as far as Plymouth and Liverpool, as well as from Oxford and surrounding areas. 67% of attendees were from a BAME background and 31% were first generation, with no family experience of university.
The day began with a tour around the College in small groups, led by our current Medical and Biomedical Sciences students. This was followed by a series of three 35-minute mini lectures in our auditorium to give the pupils a flavour of typical first year academic material. The first lecture was given by Dr Sandra Campbell, tutor for undergraduate Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, on the causes and treatment of phantom limb pain. The second lecture was on the cardiovascular system, where live images of the heart under normal and pathological conditions were described by one of our clinical tutors, Dr Rohan Wijesurendra. The final lecture of the morning, run by another of our clinical tutors, Dr Tarun Gupta, was an interactive discussion on how to design experiments to answer clinical questions. The pupils came up with some great suggestions about how ideal experiments should and shouldn’t be designed.
After lunch in Hall the pupils were involved in a series of four 30-minute rotating workshops which were designed and led by the current Medical and Biomedical Sciences students at College. The current students put together the programme based on the help they felt they would have wanted at the Year 12 stage.
Workshop 1: A mock interview (designed by Yusra, Maksim, Jess and Greg)
Pupils were offered the opportunity to be interviewed or to watch their friends in the process. This was very popular with a universal response that it wasn’t nearly as scary as they had expected.
Workshop 2: A mock tutorial (designed by Andreas and Daniela)
In small groups, the pupils experienced what it would be like to be in an Oxford tutorial. There was a choice of two topics: the effects of altitude on the body or the role of the neuromuscular junction in movement.
Workshop 3: BMAT tests (designed by Emma and Tom)
The current St John’s students described how to prepare for the BMAT tests and discussed where to find different resources that they had found useful.
Workshop 4: Ethics (designed by Hannah and Beatrix)
In a seminar setting, a range of different ethical questions was discussed, with visiting students using the four pillars of medical ethics as a framework for their answers. Current St John's students then led a conversation on the controversial use of gene editing in human embryos after critical analysis of news articles by the group.
The catering team provided some well needed cake after the workshops. Many of our current students joined the group for the refreshments to give the pupils the opportunity to discuss what it is like to study at Oxford and ask any remaining questions.
The day closed with a presentation from the Fellow for Access and Outreach on the application process, complemented by an account from Andreas, a current student, about how to put an application together. The final presentation of the day was from Daniela, who described a day in her life at university, showing that it is possible to have hobbies and fun, while at the same time enjoying the busy academic requirements of studying Medicine at Oxford.
Comments from participating pupils:
'My favourite part of the day was being able to talk to the medical students – everyone was very friendly! '
'Practising mock interviews was great, I enjoyed the opportunity to be tested in a similar way to an actual interview. I also enjoyed the lectures as they were very intriguing.'
'The interactive sessions with tutorials, interviews, ethical questions and BMAT were very engaging and stimulating and provided a high quality variety of information that is useful for the application process.'
'The whole day was brilliant! The lectures were very interesting and stimulating. The sessions run by students were very enriching and informative, especially the mock interview as it gave me a flavour of what an Oxford interview is like. Thank you for today, I really appreciated it!'