Medical students at the University of Warwick are giving up their spare time to become online mentors for school children interested in a career in healthcare. Around 35 pupils from three schools in Coventry, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, (Rugby High School, St Augustine’s in Redditch and Coventry’s Sidney Stringer) are taking part in the e-mentoring scheme.
The 21 student e-mentors are all studying at Warwick Medical School on a MBChB degree program to become qualified Doctors. They have been recruited by the University’s Warwick Volunteers program, which offers voluntary opportunities for staff and students, on behalf of educational charity The Brightside Trust.
The trust has set up a scheme called Bright Journals to encourage young people to enter higher education. Bright Journals is a website which allows mentors and mentees to communicate via a secure two-way weblog system. Both parties have their own online journal, in which they have the freedom to write reflective messages about their own experiences or ask questions of their mentoring partner. All of the students received training before meeting the pupils at an open day at Warwick Medical School.
First year MBChB student , 22, was one of the first mentors to meet his mentee, 13-year-old Matt Humphrey. Alec said: “I was given no guidance when I was trying to decide what to do at school. That is why I have got involved in this. We are not only encouraging them to pursue a career in healthcare, we can give them some advice about going to university to study anything.”
Matt Humphrey, who is a pupil at St Augustine’s in Redditch, said he was looking forward to getting started on his journal. He said: “I want to be a doctor and it is good to talk to someone who is already doing the courses. It is useful to hear other people’s experiences.”
First year medical student Keira Markey, 23, said the scheme would give her experience of communicating with teenagers. She said: “It will be really useful to help me with my training. I am used to talking to younger children, but I have never had to deal with teenagers before. I think it will really help them to talk to someone nearer their own age.”
Keira’s mentee, 16-year-old Stephanie Cook from Rugby School, said she had enjoyed spending the day at Warwick Medical School. She added: “I would like to become a doctor and this gives me the opportunity to find out what it is really like.”
Bright Journals is the only educational e-mentoring programme of its kind. The e-mentoring scheme is currently being used as a widening participation outreach tool by more than 2,000 young people at 400 universities, schools and colleges throughout the UK.
The schools' contact numbers are:
St Augustine's 01527 550400
Rugby High School 01788 810518
Sidney Stringer 024 76251756
Kelly Parkes, Communications Officer,
024 7615 0483 or
Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager
University of Warwick 07767 655860
024 76 523708 email@example.com
PR20 PJD 20th March 2006