UCL Medical School News

Target Medicine's academic leads visit the Cabinet Office

9 May 2012

Dr Jayne Kavanagh and Ms Shirley Cupit, the academic leads of Target Medicine, UCL Medical School’s widening participation project, visited Whitehall to discuss access to the medical profession with Cabinet Office civil servants.

The academic leads were invited by Alan Milburn’s team in his role as Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty. Alan Milburn identified medicine as a profession of particular concern when it comes to access, his team wanted to gather evidence from people working to improve the situation. They were keen to hear about Target Medicine, as well as what Jayne Kavanagh and Shirley Cupit thought should be highlighted in an upcoming report.

Dr Kavanagh said: “Target Medicine is delivered by medical students from UCL Medical School, with support from academic staff. The project aims to inspire students from non-selective state schools to consider a career in medicine and to mentor and support them through the process of applying to medical school.  Alan Milburn’s team were interested to hear that, through its Sixth Form mentoring scheme and Year 11 Summer School, Target Medicine mentors over 250 students from non-selective state schools every year.”

Additionally, through its Outreach Scheme, Target Medicine inspires younger students to consider a career in medicine and points them towards the right GCSEs. Dr Kavanagh adds: “Alan Milburn’s team was impressed that the project is almost entirely delivered by UCL medical students supported by academic staff.”

Shirley Cupit said: “Dr Kavanagh, Cabinet Office civil servants, and I discussed how Target Medicine is addressing the barriers faced by comprehensive school students when trying to gain entry to medicine, Dr Kavanagh and I conveyed our concern about the requirement for work experience in hospitals/GP surgeries.  As it stands, medical work experience in the UK tends to be a nepotistic affair with no transparent system for applications – it all depends on who you know.”

In light of this, Alan Milburn’s team wanted to know about Target Medicine’s success securing work experience for some of its students at UCLH, and its plans to do the same at The Royal Free and Whittington hospitals.

“We took the opportunity to ask for Alan Milburn’s support for these ventures – as well as Target Medicine in general – and will be inviting him to the opening of our work experience programme at the Royal Free this summer,” said Ms Cupit.

The UCL academic leads were also asked to advise civil servants on suitable key professionals and stakeholders to invite to a round table discussion.

Dr Kavanagh confirmed that Milburn’s team were interested in using Target Medicine as a model to be rolled out in other medical schools and across other professions. She said: “Overall, the discussion was friendly, searching and mutually respectful. We were able to raise the issue of the lack of resources available for projects like ours that, despite being extremely cost-efficient, still need support to achieve the positive goal of widening access to the medical profession.”