Reflections as a black medical student

by Adewale Kukoyi

Reflections

During lockdown, I’ve had ample time to reflect.

To reflect on my first year at University, all the positives and negatives, the pedantic learning techniques I used and my overall perspective on Medicine. However, more profoundly, I’ve reflected on my own position, and the value I can potentially share with others from my community or background who may believe where I am is unachievable for them.

Including me, there are only six black male students in my year group of roughly 270.

As one of very few, I felt it essential to share my experiences with others from a similar background to me so that they can take the necessary steps to start their medical journey

Volunteering

The opportunity to give back arose when approached by Medic Mentality – an upcoming medical school initiative, aiming to increase representation in Medicine through mentorship services, personal statement reviews, events, and UCAT/BMAT advice. They asked me to join them on an Instagram live to discuss my experience as a Bristol medical student. Founded by Aderonke Odetunde, Maria Taiwo, Osas Ogbeide, Nehita Oviojie and Toni Oduwole (all 2nd-year medical students at UCL) aims to equip students from underprivileged backgrounds with the confidence to make the application to medical school. Despite only launching in July 2020, the scheme already has 30 mentees.

@medicmentality (Instagram)

I have also joined various organisations who work to empower younger generations through mentorship and provision of resources. I am currently a mentor with The Black Excellence Network and BME Medics Bristol Year 2 Lead. In both roles, I work with prospective medical students by providing tailor-made consultations over their applications, helping with drafts of their personal statements, and giving an insight into life at Bristol.

As well as working with prospective medical students, I also work with other current medical students, and I am an active member of the newly formed Black Medic Plexus. We are a network which prides itself in building a strong community and network for black medical students across the UK. The platform was created (and founded by the brilliant Sharon Amukamara) to create a supportive space for black medics based on community and work-life balance.

My advice

My biggest tip for black students looking to enter Medicine (or Higher Education in general!) would be to have the self-confidence to apply. There are so many mental barriers you can put yourself under, ranging from imposter syndrome (feeling of not belonging) to a lack of role-models. My advice would be to reach out to any organisations (like the ones I’m part of) for guidance, information and the belief that you are capable of excelling in your chosen field.

Finally, I would also urge any medical student to get involved and recognise the value they can exchange with others. We are in a position that is hard to access and providing any help along the way is vital in uplifting future generations.

by Adewale Kukoyi

 

The Bristol PLUS Award is 10 years old! Could you be rewarded?

The University’s Employability Award for students and researchers, Bristol PLUS, exists to recognise students who develop skills through extracurricular experiences alongside their degree. This includes activities such as part time work, volunteering, student representative roles and (many!) more.

We are celebrating the Awards’ 10 year anniversary by sharing stories from some of the 5000 + students who have achieved it. One of which was current UG Education Officer, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, who used work experience as a Telethon Fundraiser, and a society committee position to gain the Award alongside her Social Policy degree. This is what she says about her experience.

“Taking part in the Bristol PLUS Award made me a stronger candidate for my career. I honed my skills in organisation, communication and most importantly for myself – leadership. It enabled me to feel confident in realising my potential in the future career I hope to have.

Attending the workshops and career events helped me to identify the qualities that came naturally to me, which assured me that a career in the public or third sector is where I would thrive and really enjoy my work. The various skills I learnt, for example bringing my CV up to a professional standard, allowed me to secure an interview with a top organisation in the third sector. Being able to show off my skills and personality in an interview setting was something I had always struggled with, but the Careers Service events gave me the tools to improve this. The interview skills workshop enabled me to pinpoint what parts of my personality and character I should highlight at an interview and what aspects I should build on. The reflective report allowed me to identify the key parts of the PLUS Award that I felt were most beneficial to me, and in turn evaluate how much I felt I had gained from undertaking such a valuable scheme.

Being able to take initiative and be confident in myself, my work and my ideas are very important to me and I feel that I have really thrived in achieving this goal through Bristol PLUS. The Award allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and work on myself on all fronts; academically, personally and mentally. It was an invaluable experience which I would highly recommend!”

You can read more student stories on the Careers Service blog.

So what does the PLUS Award look like in it’s 10th anniversary year?

· More than 1300 students have registered so far. 252 are PGTs, 52 are PGRs. The largest group of students on the Award are 2nd year UGs with 494 registrations.

· Upon registering, 91 students told us they had no idea what they want to do in future. 297 told us they had a good idea of what they want to do. The vast majority fell somewhere in between. Wherever you are with your personal development and career planning, the PLUS Award can help.

· The PLUS Award is not meant to be onerous – almost half of students registered (562) had most of the evidence they needed to achieve the Award upon registering. They used the process to reflect and maximise their value.

· 218 students achieved the Award between October and Christmas.

 

The registration deadline for this year is Friday 14 February so it is not too late to take part – visit our webpage to book an introductory talk and find out more.

Tis the season to… try something new

Stuck for ideas about what to do this December? Well look no further! If you’re out and about in Bristol this month, there are loads of events that you can get involved in across the city and the University! Covering everything from stargazing to sustainability to carol services, spend the last month of 2019 trying things that you’ll love.

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1. Wintertime in Millennium Square

Date: until 6 Jan

https://visitbristol.co.uk/whats-on/wintertime-on-the-square-in-millennium-square-p2360303

‘Wintertime in Millennium Square’ is a celebration of winter with a fun variety of events, including a spectacular lightshow created by artists Squidsoup who also designed award-winning lightshows for Burning Man Festival in Nevada, US and Christmas at Kew Gardens, among many others. You can unleash your inner ABBA at Bump roller-disco before cosying up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine at Apres Lounge.

2. Festive events with ResiLife and the Global Lounge teams

https://www.facebook.com/groups/359002554848575/

https://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/international/

ResiLife and the Global Lounge are hosting a range of events for students staying in Bristol. Meet new people and celebrate the holidays with fun, food and fairy lights.

3. Seasonal stargazing at We the Curious

https://www.wethecurious.org/PN/WinterStargazing

Date: until 6 Feb 

The event, which is part of a series of seasonal shows entitled ‘Planetarium nights’, invites guests to submerge themselves in space and step out of Bristol and into the cosmos. You’ll spend your evening 3D stargazing and understanding the mystical nature of our universe and existence – all from the inside a giant disco ball!

4. The Future of Fashion: Going Sustainable in 2020 at Beyond Retro

Date: 11 Dec

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-future-of-fashion-going-sustainable-in-2020-tickets-82618759935

This year, vintage fashion favourite, Beyond Retro have teamed up with Bristol 24/7 to host ‘The Future of Fashion: Going Sustainable’ – learn how to shop in ways that are better for the environment and twice as much fun. Get expert advice from a panel of fashion and sustainability specialists so that you can start 2020 in (sustainable) style. The event is free and sponsoring local homeless charity, Caring in Bristol, with any donations going directly to the charity.

5. The Harbourside Christmas Market

Date: every weekend until 22 Dec 

https://visitbristol.co.uk/whats-on/the-harbourside-christmas-market-p2307343

Located in one of Bristol’s most beautiful scenic spots, the Harbourside Christmas Market is the perfect way to spend a Saturday this December. Home to a diverse range of stalls featuring vintage, one-of-a-kind items from many of Bristol’s small and independent businesses, as well as live music and entertainment. The perfect place to explore cuisine from around the globe. The Market’s food stalls are a nod to the diversity of Bristol itself, containing street food cuisine from Tibet to Mexico!

6. RAG Craftmas @ Balloon Bar

Date: 12 December 

https://www.bristolsu.org.uk/groups/bristol-rag-raising-and-giving/events/rag-craftmas

RAG (Bristol Raising and Giving society) are hosting Craftmas – a wholesome afternoon where you can de-stress with like-minded people and display your inner artist. For Craftmas this year, you’re invited to join in and claim your spot as Bristol’s very own Star Baker by decorating cookies, as well as writing cards for elderly care homes around Bristol.

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Calendar still looking a bit empty? Here are some more December events that you may be interested in:

· 12 December – ‘Peep Show and Inbetweeners quiz’ hosted at The White Rabbit

· 14 December – Harbour Lights Festival 

· 14 to 15 December – Stokes Croft Christmas Market

· 16 December – ‘The Humanitarian Fundraiser’ hosted by UOB societies including Amnesty International Society; Jazz Funk and Soul society; and the Oxfam society Christmas.