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Queen Mary Academy

Student case study - Empowering healthcare students: the Women in Healthcare Society

A female doctor touches a device screen, which is overlaid on the photo. The icons in the photo are a heartbeat, microscope, genome, medical chart.
SDI Productions
Lara Schmitt

Lara Victoria Schmitt

Medical Student at Barts and the London and Secretary of Women in Healthcare Society

The Barts and the London Women in Healthcare Society is dedicated to empowering students in their journey through healthcare. The Society runs mentoring programs and hosts a range of events, including academic talks, welfare events and regular social events accessible to everyone. We also work to raise awareness for the issues we as women face within healthcare.

The Women in Healthcare Society is dedicated to supporting and empowering women and those identifying as women at Barts in their journey here. The Society was restarted in the academic year 2020/21 by Melisa Cetin and Parmis Vafapour. The underrepresentation of women in senior roles and in healthcare and academia was a driving factor. In 2020, women made up 13.2 % of consultant surgeons in England, in addition to an underrepresentation of women in certain specialities, such as neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery. The aim from the beginning on was to empower all students in their journey through healthcare and the role women play within that.

We were able to create incredibly well attended online events during a very difficult time with over 50 people attending via Zoom. Some of our events even inspired a student to fight for a change in the medical school curriculum. One of the bigger achievements last year was our annual conference which we were able to hold again this year. Coming together and spending a full day exploring the challenges women face within healthcare and how students can try to tackle them was truly empowering.

From an academic mentorship program to our Big Sib Lil Sib scheme, we really try to help our members professionally and socially. This year, in 2022, we were able to fit over 50 students onto our mentorship program, making it the largest Mentorship program at Barts and the London. We matched female identifying doctors with students according to their career interests and provided them with opportunities for unique advice on career progression and to build their portfolio. For our Big Sib Lil Sib program, we matched up students from year 3-5 as Big Sibs with students from year 1-2 as Lil Sibs. Supporting one another through challenges faced during university, from tips and tricks for exams to cosy socials, was at the forefront of this scheme.

Working within Women in Healthcare Society has really changed my life at university for the better and I have met truly inspiring people through the society. We as a committee try to create a supportive environment and do our best to help each other. The support I have personally received from members of the society has really helped me become more confident as a woman in healthcare.

Throughout the year we also worked with various charity organisations to spread awareness and fundraise for them.

This year, we were nominated for a total of eight society awards, and we managed to win four of them, including the award for Society of the Year. This was honestly an amazing achievement that none of us expected and that we were so thrilled about. To be recognised for all the work we have done to raise awareness, empower our members and try to make a change at the university was truly rewarding. After the ceremony we celebrated the society and our achievements with our members during our first WIH Soiree. We all came together, had dinner, danced, laughed and had a great time. It made for a perfect finish of our second year as Women in Healthcare.

We have another exciting year ahead of us, now as a more established society. Anyone that would like to get involved can do so by becoming a member, attending events and by applying for committee roles during elections. Additionally, you can contact us via email or Instagram during any time of the year. We are always very keen on students that want to get involved!

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