Charlotte Simms is a third year medical student at WMS, who started her studies at Warwick after working in a variety of professional roles. Currently she is leading the students’ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) initiatives within the School. We spoke to her to find out more.
Why did you choose to study medicine at Warwick?
Before coming to Warwick, I worked in many different jobs and travelled but always returned to healthcare. I loved the interaction with the public and the privileged relationship and bond that you have when working with patients and their families. I chose WMS as it has a large graduate intake. I’m older and have been out of university for a while so I felt that I’d fit into a graduate entry only intake more easily.
How have you found the course so far?
I’ve really enjoyed the course so far and I’m amazed at how much I’ve learnt and how far we’ve all come. Studying medicine can be a humbling experience but I’ve found support from both the students and faculty. I’ve surprised myself by my emerging interest in research. It was never a field I thought I’d have an affinity with, but I’ve met so many aspirational people who are full of ideas and enthusiasm, who have been really inspirational and a driving force behind our projects.
You're currently involved in some of the School's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion activities - can you tell us more about that?
I helped set up the Athena SWAN MB ChB student subgroup last year to empower students and create a platform for their voice in relation to ED&I within the medical school. We’re a diverse group of students who discuss the student experience whilst at Warwick and create projects to increase the feeling of inclusivity. We work within the context of the WMS Athena SWAN Silver Plan Objectives and our projects will be used as part of the future Gold Award application.
What have you been most proud of about your ED&I activities so far?
I enjoy being able to give students a platform to educate others and highlight their experiences. I’ve been so proud of how much support we’ve had from students and staff in our ventures. We’re currently working on a variety of projects, and it feels like there’s a big drive around inclusivity at WMS and it’s great to be part of it.
What are your biggest goals for your ED&I work?
Our aim is to make medical school feel an inclusive experience and therefore create inclusive practicing doctors going forward. Giving students skills like active bystander training as well as the opportunity to hear from those with lived experience and increased awareness of demographic issues in one of the seminars all adds up to support them to feel empowered and stand up for themselves and those around them.
How can people get involved?
The main group is open to any students enrolled at WMS. We meet every two months and there’s no obligation to sign up to any of our projects. Your voice and opinion is the most important thing to us! We also have a public facing webpage which highlights our projects and events. We have a speaker series planned looking at areas of medicine that are stigmatised, as well as ethical discussions on subjects which are topical to the students.
Do you have any thoughts on ED&I in Medicine more generally and how progress could be made in this area?
Now is a great time for ED&I in medicine, there is so much focus and promotion around it and this can only benefit patients and those working in healthcare. I think communication is key in progress. More platforms are appearing so people can highlight their experiences and needs. This is being seen both in WMS and in the wider world. The more diverse experiences shared, the wider future healthcare professionals’ perspectives will be, and that will enable them to deliver tailored and appropriate care confidently.