Medical Students Demand Action on the Environment, Financial Support, and Diversity

Priscilla Lynch 

April 06, 2021

Students attending this year’s British Medical Association (BMA) medical students conference have called for action on a variety of topics ranging from how medicine is taught in universities to the experience of international students.

Specifically, they backed taking action on:

  • Improving environmentally-friendly practices and procurement in NHS supply chains, particularly on personal protective equipment provision

  • Addressing poor financial support for international students and high tuition fees

  • Incorporating mental health support as a criterion for university league tables

  • Improving racial diversity in teaching of health presentations in different patients

  • Improving awareness of specific learning differences in medical school

  • Ensuring that public health campaigns are accessibly promoted in different languages.

Khadija Meghrawi, chair of the virtually-held conference, said it was an inspiring two days.

“In medicine we must be radical and challenge other systems that have failed us and society,” she tweeted. “Every one of you did so.”

Meanwhile, medical students have welcomed a UK-wide initiative to support newly qualified doctors. Under the arrangements, final-year medical students – whose training has been disrupted by COVID-19 – will be entitled to five extra days’ voluntary paid shadowing compared with previous years.

Aisling McCarthy, chair of the BMA’s Northern Ireland medical students committee, said it was a positive move.

“We welcome this extended period of role-shadowing for final-year medical students who just this week received their final exam results and are now looking forward to becoming practising foundation year one doctors in the summer,” she said.  

“This has been a very challenging 12 months for final year medical students and, indeed, all medical students. Not only have clinical placements and patient contact time been significantly disrupted due to the pandemic, students have had to navigate the isolation of remote learning away from their peers and, in some cases, deal with the added anxiety of technical issues disrupting some online exams.”

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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