In December 2016 we established Routes to the Professions (R2P): Dentistry, a widening participation programme which supports students from groups currently underrepresented in the dental profession through school years 12 and 13 (16-18 year olds).
We currently have 27 students participating; the first cohort of students have almost completed the programme, while the second cohort are preparing to make their applications to university. The programme involves students attending four days at the University which cover five different topics: Getting In (support for applications and admissions); Getting to Know (increasing knowledge of the profession by bringing in practising dentists from a variety of roles and backgrounds to chat to the students); Developing the Skills (activities to help the students develop the non-academic skills required to study and pursue a career in dentistry); Being a Team (working with other participants); and Getting Support (interaction with current dental students acting as mentors). Successful completion of the R2P: Dentistry programme guarantees the participants an interview for our BDS course.
While R2P: Dentistry goes a long way towards supporting these students to find out more about the profession, securing relevant work experience placements is particularly challenging for this group. Therefore, we are looking for dentists and dental practices to get involved in a work experience programme which will run alongside R2P: Dentistry (which is something we already do for participants on our R2P: Medicine programme). The work experience programme would involve practices offering a three day placement for a student (support and information on providing placements can be found in the Dental Schools Council and Health Education England Dental Work Experience Toolkit.
We will ensure that students are placed in practices away from their homes and schools, and we will host a pre-placement workshop to brief them thoroughly about confidentiality and how to conduct themselves while on placement. Students will also be provided with a reflective diary to help them make the most of the opportunity, and they would attend a post-placement workshop in which they can share their reflections and think about how they might discuss what they have learnt in their UCAS applications and university interviews.
If you would like to get involved with Routes to the Professions: Dentistry or you would like to discuss providing work experience placements please e-mail: MDSOutreach@contacts.bham.ac.uk or visit www.birmingham.ac.uk/MDSOutreach.