Medical professionals at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd have worked with Year 12 and 13 pupils from local state schools since 2016 to help them with their Medicine and Dentistry university applications.
The initiative has led to hundreds of students from north Wales successfully applying to study Dentistry or Medicine at university. The programme has returned to face-to-face learning this school year. In 2019, the last school year before the pandemic, 100 per cent of learners who completed the programme received an offer to study Medicine at university.
This year, 40 Year 12 students have enrolled at the programme at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. The programme has also been expanded to Flintshire and Gwynedd, with a programme for prospective Dentistry students now delivered across north Wales too.
Young people on the scheme attend up to 15 sessions per year, plus a week of work experience, designed to support them with their applications for Medicine or Dentistry degrees. The activities include group work, lectures, mock tests and interview practice.
Several dozen volunteers give their time to support the programme, including consultants, medical students and administration staff.
Seren is a Welsh Government initiative to help Wales’s brightest state-educated learners achieve their full academic potential and enter leading universities in Wales, the UK and overseas. Around 22,000 learners in years 8 to 13 are currently participating in Seren. In 2022, half of all participants went on to study a science, technology, engineering or mathematics, or ‘STEM’ subject at university.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, said: “It’s brilliant that clinicians are passing on their knowledge and passion for medicine on to young local people.
“This is a fantastic example of how clinical staff can work with the local community to share their expertise with young people, many of whom I hope will go on to practice in north Wales. I’m also looking forward to the Seren Medics programme working with other health boards across Wales.
“I would like to thank all of the volunteers, staff and patients for giving their time to inspire the medics of the future.”
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, added: “Seren is a fantastic scheme which has had tremendous success in helping our brightest young people get into some of the best universities in the world.
“This is a great example of how our Seren programme is not only helping young learners flourish, it’s providing a real benefit for local communities by helping to nurture the doctors and dentists of the future.
“We will always need highly skilled medical professionals and this is a great way to help our brightest learners get onto the best degree programmes and into rewarding careers in medicine.”
Dr Dan Menzies, a respiratory consultant at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, said: “The scheme has been going since 2016-17, when my colleagues and I were keen to support local children who wanted a career in medicine. We realised there was a gap between the opportunities for children attending private schools and local comprehensives and we saw this programme as a way of closing the gap.
“This programme is delivered by our junior doctors out of goodwill and altruism - we have senior doctors helping junior doctors, together helping the doctors of the future.
“It’s fantastic to see the young people blossom and we really want them to achieve all they are capable of.”