Coaching sessions are proving to be just what the doctor ordered as students receive expert help to fulfil their dreams of becoming leading professionals.
Students from Barnard Castle School and Teesdale School, who are interested in medicine dentistry, and veterinary studies or who are aiming high for Oxbridge entrance, have been attending sessions designed to give them an edge in a competitive field.
Consultant psychiatrist in the Forensic Learning Disabilities Directorate at Roseberry Park Hospital, Middlesbrough, Dr Bunny Forsyth has been volunteering her services to help young people achieve their ambitions.
Dr Forsyth has a clinical director role in the regional forensic service and also examines regularly for the Newcastle University Medical School MBBS programme. As an undergraduate consultant assessor, teacher and postgraduate clinical trainer she is well versed in the expectations for future medics who share similar requirements with budding vets and dentists.
She has volunteered her expertise after liaising with head of further education at Barnard Castle School Charles Alderson and Simon Henderson, the joint head of sixth form at Teesdale School.
Dr Forsyth said that in a fiercely competitive field, today’s students faces a vigorous selection process involving tests and interviews, as well as having to achieve top grades. The coaching programme targets students from years 10-13.
For medics, dentists and vets there is another hurdle via the UK Clinical Aptitude Tests (UKCAT) and the Biomedical Admissions Tests (BMAT), which is part of the Cambridge Assessment Testing programme. Dr Forsyth is providing extra coaching sessions as results are critical in interview selection.
Dr Forsyth said: “The current series of steps and hurdles to even apply for medical school can be baffling to the uninitiated and quite tricky to navigate.
“Medicine and related fields are all about hard work, determination and being interested in people. You do need high grades at A level but also need to demonstrate emotional intelligence and an ability to reflect on both academic and more emotional issues.
The coaching has presented students with a comprehensive overview of entry requirements.
Interested students have formed a support network and have been working on a series of projects that delve into key areas. They also benefit from mock interviews and are practising UKCAT questions.
Mr Alderson said: “It is not necessarily enough to secure top grades, students wanting to enter medicine and related subjects need to show more, including commitment and natural aptitude. Dr Forsyth has been able to give them a clear insight into the profession and help them decide whether it is for them.”
Barnard Castle School student Chloe Hanmer, 16, of Gainford, who wants to be a doctor, added: “It has been invaluable and being part of a group has allowed us to support each other moving forward.”