Faculty of Medicine staff, students and alumni have come together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the BM6 programme.
Established in 2002, the course invites and encourages people from range of backgrounds into medicine. The programme aims to address under-representation of lower socioeconomic groups in the medical profession and enrich the diversity of our student body and learning environment.
More than 350 students have completed the course and gone on to a range of medical professions.
To celebrate the anniversary, the Faculty of Medicine invited current and past BM6 students to Southampton for a special event to hear about each other experiences of the course.
Professor Sally Curtis, Deputy Head of School Education, and previous BM6 programme lead, said: “We are incredibly proud of our BM6 course and to reach 20 years is a fantastic achievement, and reflects the hard work of the students and staff and the support from the Faculty.
“We were delighted to welcome so many students, staff and alumni to our celebration event. It was a wonderful opportunity for current students to meet alumni and to hear about the opportunities they’ve had, their successes and the challenges they have successfully navigated, and for all to discuss and reflect on the vision and ambitions for the BM6 Programme going forward.”
Dr Caroline Childs, BM6 programme Lead, said: “For the past 20 years we have developed our BM6 course to be one of the most rich and diverse programmes in the country. As a Faculty, we have immensely benefited from the course too. The students bring a huge amount of experience and knowledge in to the learning and social environments and an increased understanding of a broader range of patients/backgrounds into the academic and clinical learning arenas.
“We are very proud of the feedback our students give us which we use to improve the programme and we are looking forward to further building on social support networks within BM6, which currently includes a whole cohort induction week welcome event and an Eid celebration.”
Students on the BM6 course have a unique and tailored first year of study to meet their specific needs and to support them in the transition to University and to ensure they successfully graduate as doctors. Like all Southampton medical students, those on the BM6 course have the opportunity to go on clinical placement in their first year and experience an innovative research-led curriculum that put compassion and communication at the centre of their studies. After the first year, students study alongside those on the BM5 programme, while continuing to receive support and input from the BM6 staff team.
“The placements have been really beneficial – having the opportunity to gain experience in GP surgeries or areas such as geriatrics, paediatrics, and many more is why I chose to come to Southampton and not somewhere else. They have allowed me to build confidence around doctors and patients and it’s good to see the theory being put into practice as it solidifies my knowledge.”
Over the past 20 years, the BM6 course has developed and grown to now accepting 32 students in each cohort. Thirteen different members of staff contribute to the course teaching during Y0 as well as a range of guest speakers including clinicians and researchers.
There is also a thriving student-led peer-to-peer support network among BM6 students, including the BM6 Pocket review – a social media and online workshop activity aimed at new students which was Highly Commended in the MEIN Education Innovation Awards 2021.
The BM6 team are currently working with University colleagues to develop the admissions policy to support local applicants, providing further information on BM6 to local schools, teachers and careers advisors, and offering applicants additional support on their interview preparations.
BM6 alumni have gone on to achieve excellence in a range of medical professions including GPs, psychiatry and hospital consultants in emergency medicine and geriatrics and older person’s health. Some graduates are working within the armed forces and in medical education.
Jahangir (Jingy) Alom graduated the BM6 course in 2018 with the Deans Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Faculty of Medicine and is now an Emergency Medicine trainee at Barts Health NHS Trust in London. During his time as an undergraduate, Jingy was President of MedSoc and established WAMSoc (Widening Access to Medicine Society), a student-led initiative aiming to empower students from a diverse range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds across the UK to follow a career in medicine. Jingy attended the celebration event and said: “As a young 18 year old, I did not think an opportunity of going to medical school, existed for me,” he said. “But Southampton was that opportunity and I loved every minute of it.
“I was taught by world class academics, who helped me so much and have now gone on to be my colleagues. My time in Southampton gave me the confidence to speak about health issues on a national and international scale and I am now able to work in the community I grew up in and make a real difference.”