Taking strides towards medical school

Student Nicholas Sappor Charles credits strong support from his tutors for helping him take important steps towards medical school.

Nicholas, who moved to the UK from Ghana, is also grateful for the flexibility that Leeds Sixth Form College has granted him as he works towards his goal.

His first experience of the college was when he enrolled on the Access Foundation GCSE programme last year. He ended up completing that course with six GCSEs, including in Combined Science Synergy – a double qualification which combines biology, chemistry and physics.

Nicholas is now busy studying chemistry, biology and maths A levels – and is grateful for all the guidance he has received.

The benefits of a flexible approach

He said: “Leeds Sixth Form College has been a good experience so far. I enrolled on the Access GCSE course after speaking with a career advisor at college, who told me what I needed to do to get into medical school. 

“I was enrolled on a five GCSE programme but, in order to increase my chances of getting into as many universities as possible, the college also allowed me to do one extra GCSE, in business.

“That was a great opportunity which I am very grateful for. It was a bit tricky because timetables would clash, but my tutor was always there to help and explain things, plus give feedback on tests.”

An enriching and welcoming environment

Nicholas is also appreciative of the many enrichment activities that the college has arranged during his A level studies, and for making him feel welcome.

He said: “The teachers are friendly and helpful and are always ready to answer your questions. I am also highly impressed by the number of opportunities – including work experience, massive open online courses, and virtual skills development programmes – they try to make available to us.

“I was shy and a bit anxious due to the change of environment when I came to the UK, but college has really helped me grow in confidence and make me feel like I belong.”

Leeds college launching course to help tackle GP shortages

An innovative new course designed to help plug a national shortage of doctors will be launched in Leeds this summer.

Access to Medicine is a fast track, specialist, one year programme that will be taught by Leeds Sixth Form College from September, 2021.

The college is one of just a handful of further education institutions that will be running the course, which is aimed at adult learners who want to progress to university to pursue a medical career but lack the required A levels.

Students of Access to Medicine will be taught in Leeds Sixth Form College’s dedicated laboratory and gain the equivalent of A levels in Chemistry, Biology and Maths – an HE Diploma Level 3 – in just one year.

The UK has been suffering from a major shortage of GPs, as a new report by the BMA makes clear, and courses like this are being used as part of a wider strategy to tackle the problem.

A fast track route into medicine

Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Rachael Booth, said: “Leeds Sixth Form College is proud to be helping spearhead this significant new course.

“Access to Medicine courses are designed to do exactly what they say ‘on the tin’ – provide a fast-track route, for adult learners, into the field of medicine.

“This course is particularly important at the current time, when the country is suffering from serious doctor shortages and the healthcare workforce as a whole has been faced with enormous challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are proud to be able to help address those problems by offering Access to Medicine from here at Leeds Sixth Form College, where our specialist staff and facilities are perfectly placed to deliver it.”

The course, for those aged 19 and over, has already been trialled at a few colleges and Leeds Sixth Form College is in discussions with a number of universities about potential tie-ins with their medical schools.

Course Leader at Leeds Sixth Form College, Alex Wilkinson, is certain Access to Medicine will prove popular.

She said: “We get a lot of students from many different backgrounds at the college who tell us they want to do medicine, so we know there is a lot of interest in this – we have a captive audience in a sense.

“And we’ve got the specialists to deliver this, and lots of teachers who have experience in supporting students with A levels.

“This course will get the students onto the first rung of a medical career.”

Addressing a major problem

The BMA’s research suggests that, across general practices and hospitals, there are 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people in England – compared to an average of 3.7 in comparable EU countries.

It warns that: “The medical workforce in England is currently short of around 49,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) doctors. Without significant intervention to the current rate of growth, we estimate the future medical workforce shortage to be between 26,889 and 83,779 FTE doctors by 2043.”

The doctors shortage is also a problem at regional level, with a report by the Medical Defence Society in December, 2019 noting that Yorkshire and Humber (NHS Leeds) was one of the five worst affected areas in the country. For more details about the courses available at Leeds Sixth Form College visit leedssixthform.ac.uk/our-courses/courses/, call 0113 386 1997, or email courses@leedssixthform.ac.uk .