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Medical Conference - Student Blog

On Wednesday 20th January, over 120 pupils aged 13-18 from schools all over the west Midlands and Wales came together for the sell-out Medical Education Conference held at Oswestry School. We welcomed pupils from Madeley Academy, Sir John Talbot’s School, Thomas Telford School, Telford Langley School, Llanfyllin High School, Abbey Gate College, Newport Girls’ High School, Concord College, Welshpool High School, Rydal Penrhos School, Caereinion High School, The Marches School, The Corbet School and finally and The Community College in Bishop’s Castle. The day was kick-started with welcoming addresses from Mr Tim Jefferis, deputy head at Oswestry, and Mr Julian Noad, Oswestry’s headmaster. This was followed by an informative talk about the Medical School journey from Dr John Jones, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hospital Dean for Keele University, and a brief overview of what the day had in store for us all.

Before we knew it, the different groups were heading off to the first of their two allocated lectures being held in the newly refurbished science labs. For my group, the topic was gastroenterology with Dr Jones. I found the talk fascinating, and I learnt so much about what the profession involves. Dr Jones even brought in a £30’000 surgical endoscope that he - very bravely!- let us pass around and take a look at in closer detail.

After a brief break the groups were straight into their penultimate lecture for the morning, which was ‘Careers in the NHS’ for my group. Victoria Maher gave a very uplifting presentation about the work environment in hospitals and the NHS as a whole, which was very helpful and really made me aware of how highly the NHS value their patients and colleagues. It really gave the impression that hospitals are a friendly and rewarding work environment, which, of course, is ideal.

The penultimate session began at 1:30, and was the one I was most looking forward to. A topic well-thought about: ‘Should the NHS be replaced by a social insurance system modelled on those in much of the rest of the developed world’ was debated. The session was chaired by Mr Mark Cheetam, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon. Speaking convincingly on the unfavoured ‘for the motion’ side were Professor Matthew Makin and Miss Alison Sefton, who both provided thought-provoking ideas with supporting facts and figures. They were faced with some very tough questions, but dealt with them very convincingly. On the ‘against the motion’ side - the much preferred argument- spoke Dr Gill Conde and Tom Reehal, who challenged and contradicted the opposing team very strongly, making the debate all the more exciting. Fortunately for them, the ‘against’ side won over the audience, with over ⅔ agreeing with them.

The lively day was rounded off with a question and answer session with Mr Mark Cheetam, Dr Gill Conde, Dr Soon Lim and Tom Reehal. Although the floor were quiet to begin with, pupils soon began to gain confidence and asked intriguing questions for the panel to answer.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day; it was well-organised, informative and extremely interesting. It gave me, as a GCSE pupil, a good insight into the medical world and the pros and cons of a medical profession. I found the gastroenterology talk very captivating, alongside the debate. Miss Alison Sefton, Head of Science at Oswestry School said, “"The Medical Conference was an opportunity for students to gain more knowledge about careers in medicine. Our own students were joined by 120 students to take part in practical activities (a suturing workshop), discussion groups talks from leading NHS specialists. Our speakers (drawn from Old Oswestrians, parents and friends of the school) were impressed by the students questions, in particular, during the afternoon's medical ethics debate. I hope that the day has allowed students to take the next step on the path to a career in medicine".

Report by Roisin Gambroudes, Oswestry School