On Wednesday 5 June, students and their families from across the Ark network came together for the launch of Project Healthcare.
The programme aims to support sixth form students who are considering a career in healthcare to select the right course, secure quality volunteering, succeed in admissions tests/interviews, and get the grades they need to progress.
Students were joined by Ark alumni, healthcare apprentices and representatives from the NHS to hear about their experiences and learn more about the routes into medicine and healthcare.
Julie Screaton, Chief People Officer at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation, talked about the huge variety of careers – around 350 – available in the NHS, and the opportunity for progression and development. Harlene Dandy-Hughes, Education, Training and Development Manager at Guy's and St Thomas, talked about the apprenticeships available for those who didn’t want to take the more traditional routes – explaining that “you only learn how to really work with patients on the job.” Poppy Gibson, a trainee nursing associate, gave an account of her experience as an apprentice, why that route worked for her, and how rewarding she found her job.
Students heard from Ark Walworth Academy alumnus, Isa Mahamud, who is currently studying medicine at the University of Southampton. He felt the support and guidance he received from professionals was crucial to his success, he also highlighted the importance of students accessing “life experience”.
“I was born in Somalia and came here when I was around 10. English was difficult for me but I was passionate about science and maths. When I got to year 10, I realised I wanted to do medicine – but at the time not many people around me were applying to medicine so I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it.
“My teacher put me in contact with a doctor from Royal London Hospital, who I asked to be my mentor. I didn’t really know much about the tests I needed to do and my mentor was really helpful in guiding me through – I was really fortunate to have a mentor, putting me in contact with useful people and getting me onto preparation courses with healthcare professionals.”
At the end of the evening, students had the chance to grill the experts with all their questions, during a speed networking session.
The programme will continue over 18 months, with events including a Medicine Fair at St Paul’s Boys School, personal statement and interview support, revision sessions and an Imperial College Open Day.
Project Healthcare is the sister programme to Project Oxbridge, which was launched on 21 May 2019. 50 Ark students, selected for their academic potential, are being supported to gain places at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Find out more about Project Oxbridge here.