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St George’s celebrated 21 years of our Graduate Entry Medicine programme on Saturday 21 May at an event attended by students and alumni, alongside current and former staff.
Open to graduates from a wide range of science and non-science backgrounds, the Graduate Entry Programme at St George’s offers a fast-track route which condenses the first stage of a conventional medical degree, allowing students to achieve the qualification in four rather than five years.
In the late 1990s when the St George’s leadership team were considering introducing the programme, the concept of a fast-track route into Medicine only existed in some other countries, such as Australia and Canada. At its launch in 2000, the St George’s course was the first of its kind in the UK, accepting graduates not just from scientific backgrounds, but from all disciplines.
The event opened with a panel discussion in The Curve lecture theatre led by our Principal, Professor Jenny Higham. During the discussion, alumni Dr Hannah Barham-Brown and Dr Maya Shahsavari were joined by two of the team involved in establishing the programme, Professor Deborah Bowman and Dr Shehla Baig, and a Final Year St George’s Graduate Entry Medicine student, to reflect on the achievements of the programme and its community. You can read more about our panel members here.
Opening the panel, Professor Higham said: “I came to St George’s six years ago, and its Graduate Entry Medicine programme was one of the things I had heard the most about. It had such an enormously high reputation beyond these walls.”
During the panel discussion, Dr Shehla Baig, who is Director of MBBS Development, said of the early years of the programme: “I think the exceptional thing about this course was we started with a blank sheet of paper and we started from our values. And our values were that it should be active and experiential from the start. And it was important that we kept alive all of that curiosity, humanity and commitment that students bring with them when they want to be a doctor.”
Professor Peter McCrorie and Professor Sir Robert Boyd, who both played a key role in making this unique programme a possibility, were unfortunately unable to attend but shared video messages with guests. Professor Peter McCrorie said: "Twenty-one years ago, I vividly remember the excitement and the fun we had creating a brand-new, first-of-its-kind, innovative programme. We had a very broad mix of students and that’s what made the course what it is. It made for great discussions, where everyone brought their own perspectives.”
Professor Sir Robert Boyd reflected, “I feel very privileged to have had some minor part, but most of the work was done by the fantastic people at St George’s, and then later by the students themselves.” Speaking about the success of the programme at St George’s, he adds: “It had a number of serious advantages. It was independent, flexible and had a high reputation for medical education. It also had some terrific individuals behind the programme.”
Following the panel discussion, guests enjoyed an Afternoon Tea in the Students’ Union bar, where former Dean of Undergraduate Medicine, Professor Sean Hilton, and former Deputy Academic Registrar, Philip Brown, shared their reflections on implementing this ground-breaking programme. Guests also had the opportunity to catch up with friends and meet other members of the programme.
To receive a copy of some of our recorded highlights from the event, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Thursday 14 October, as part of Allied Health Professions Day, we held a live, online Q&A with Clare McCarroll, a Physiotherapy alumna and Therapy Team Lead at the Integrated Community Reablement Service at Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust. The event was an opportunity for students, staff and alumni to hear more from Clare and Ellie about their career paths and achievements, and to gain some insight into Clare’s career journey since leaving St George’s.
Earlier this year, Clare was awarded a BEM for her services to the NHS and is actively involved in a series of projects which aim to support the health and wellbeing of people through the use of music. She is also part of the NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, which aims to support healthcare staff to develop the commercial skills, knowledge and experience needed to successfully develop and spread innovation. You can find out more about the programme, what it involves and how to apply here.
Clare was interviewed by Royal College of Music alumna, Classical Musician and First Year Physiotherapy student, Ellie Lovegrove. Ellie, who has played the trumpet at concert venues around the world, was attracted to a career in Physiotherapy due to her love of learning about neuroscience and anatomy, and her interest in working in a person-based role.
Speaking about how her time at St George’s has shaped her career, Clare – who completed her Masters in Clinical Research at the university following an undergraduate degree in Physiotherapy – said: “They couldn’t get rid of me at St George’s, I kept coming back!”. She added, “I was surrounded by all these dynamic, amazing people and that instilled in me that value of multidisciplinary team working. Appreciating each other’s skills and pooling those together makes such a difference on a patient journey.” Reflecting on her own first degree, Ellie added: “At St George’s, there’s this real focus on multidisciplinary learning. Looking back, I wish I’d spent a bit more time seeing what students from other courses were doing and seeing different approaches.”
Sharing advice with current Physiotherapy students starting out on placement, Clare said, “Do whatever you need to do that will maintain your well-being. You need to be at a place where you are able to give the best part of yourself. Whatever, it is - running, yoga, meditating, getting out in nature – make sure you do enough of that and build that into your day so that you are looking after yourself enough to look after everyone around you, and to be an effective team member.” She continued, “Question your own and your team’s practice – embed a high curiosity and low blame culture so you stay inquisitive – this will enhance your professional development and patient care”. Clare’s final piece of advice was, “At work, building a sense of community wherever you are is really important. Doing the small things that help you feel that you’re part of a team really help you work better together.”
You can find out more about Clare’s work and achievements here.
To receive a recording of the event, or to find out more about our Alumni Perspectives events, please email email@example.com.
On Thursday 9 September, the Development and Alumni Relations team held its second event in its ‘Alumni Perspectives’ series, which showcases some of the incredible stories of our alumni, celebrates their achievements and gives our community the chance to hear more about their experiences. In this live online event, Third Year Graduate Entry Medicine student, Josie Price, was in conversation with Graduate Entry Medicine alumna, Captain Bryony Hastings, and MBBS alumnus, Professor Mike Grocott.
Medicine alumnus, Professor Mike Grocott, is a Professor of Anaesthesia and Xtreme Everest Oxygen Research Consortium Leader, graduated from St George's in 1992. He is co-founder of the UCL Centre for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment Medicine (CASE) and Xtreme Everest Oxygen Research Consortium Leader. He has led a number of expeditions, including to Cho Oyu (the sixth highest mountain in the world), to help prepare for his work on Everest in 2007 as leader of the Caudwell Xtreme Everest research Team.
Sharing advice with students interested in following a similar career path, Professor Grocott said:
You’ve got to love what you do. A
t St George’s, I’d enjoyed Acute Medicine so much that I decided I wanted to work in Intensive Care, and I went down the Anaesthetic route to do that. You’ve got to do something you love, and when you go to meet the department you’re going to work in, look at the team and the dynamics between them. Your team is such an important part of having a happy and successful career.
Speaking about some of the most rewarding aspects of his role as Xtreme Everest Consortium Leader and co-founder of the CASE, he went on to say:
It’s all about the people. The most special moments come from the people around you. The most rewarding thing is look
ing back on a project and knowing you'll most likely never experience anything like it again, which is working really closely with a group of people who’ve worked towards a shared goal.
Captain Bryony Hastings of the Royal Army Medical Corps completed her first degree in Physics at Oxford before joining the St George’s Graduate Entry Medicine course in 2012. She began her military career after being awarded a medical cadetship from the Army during the first year of her course. Captain Hastings’ first deployment as a General Duties Medical Officer (GDMO) for 4 Medical Regiment was to Bardufoss, Norway (located 300 miles inside the Arctic Circle). She will now be based in Winchester for the next six years while she completes Psychiatry training, and continues to be deployed as needed as a military doctor.
Reflecting on her time as a student on the Graduate Entry Medicine programme, Captain Bryony Hastings said, “I’ve worked with a lot of Military Healthcare Support Officers and Military Nurses, and I’m constantly encouraging them to think about studying Graduate Entry Medicine. The teachers and lecturers on the programme were really inspiring and everyone on my programme really bonded over that shared ambition to become a doctor. Now that I’ve started Psychiatry training, I can see that I have a wider breadth of experience that I can draw on in my work because of my time on the course – which I think is an advantage, and probably helps my patients as well.”
We were delighted to welcome some of our alumni, students and staff from the Graduate Entry Medicine programme to this event as we celebrate 21 years of Graduate Entry Medicine - including Medicine course director, Professor Hannah Cock. Professor Cock said:
"I think the stories we’ve heard today illustrate beautifully how our Medicine programmes support people with a breadth of experience to flourish and progress. This is great inspiration for our current students and aspirational students to hear and see people who’ve been where they are now, especially such shining examples of their future journeys. As a course lead, it is also enormously rewarding to see some of the important contributions to society our alumni go on to make and to have been a part of that journey."
"I am very grateful to have had the chance to volunteer for this event. I really appreciate being able to play a part in the Graduate Entry Medicine 21st Anniversary celebrations - it reminds me of how lucky I am to be studying a course at St George’s that was the first of its kind in the UK!"
To receive a recording of the event or to find out more about our Alumni Perspectives event, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.