Working in Health Access Project

Published: 25 November 2003

Innovative collaboration project to attract students into healthcare professions

In 2002 just over 10% of all applications to Scottish Medical Schools were from those described as coming from a 'Manual' background ヨ skilled or unskilled. A career in healthcare is not considered a possibility by many of the young people from this under-represented sector of our educational system.

But this is not down to ability or academic attainment. While some of the young people from schools with a traditionally low rate of transfer to Higher and Further Education are bright and capable enough, they simply do not think about the healthcare profession as a potential career. By trying to increase the number of young people to make this choice, the wellbeing of the nation could benefit and it could also bring a number of economic and social advantages.

So the question of whether we can positively influence the attitudes of the young people in this position is an important one.

Officially launched today, Wednesday 26 November 2003, at the University of Glasgow Wolfson Medical School, the SHEFC funded Working in Health Access Project (WHAP) will attempt to address this issue. It will see all medical and veterinary schools at the Scottish universities, Stirling University and local education authorities teaming up with education colleagues to identify over 50 partner schools. These will be selected to be representative of the width of rural and urban settings in Scotland.

WHAP will provide an action-research pilot for a national scheme in Scotland to increase awareness of healthcare as a possible career for young people attending schools with low participation rates in higher education. By working in close partnership with students and staff, WHAP hopes to increase the admission rates from students in the target groups to Scottish medical schools.

Dr Mary Ann Lumsden, Project Director based at the University of Glasgow explained, 'Pupils in our partner schools will be asked to complete a psychometric assessment that will focus on the personal qualities felt necessary to work in this field such as consideration, empathy and moral and ethical observation as well as cognitive ability. This will help in the identification of students who might want to take part but might not have thought previously about a career in a health profession'.

Project staff will work closely with the partner schools, students, staff, local and regional health staff and, particularly, with parents to develop a programme of awareness raising and exposure to the work of healthcare professionals. In-school programmes on healthcare professions will be introduced across the wide spectrum of healthcare occupations ヨ for example the roles of physician, veterinarian, or nurse.

The latter stages of the programme will look at the applications to Higher Education from partner school pupils monitored and destination data compiled to marry up those students who wish to carry their interest in healthcare on to a level which matches their attainment.

Professor Martin Pippard from the University of Dundee School of Medicine, said: 'To serve a diverse population we need to recruit from a similar diversity. Although the University of Dundee's School of Medicine already has students from across the social spectrum, there is still much work to be done and we welcome moves to take this further. This project once again demonstrates the way in which Scottish medical schools can work together'.

Roger McClure, Chief Executive of SHEFC, said: 'Widening access is about reaching out to people who have the ability to benefit from higher education. The Working in Health Access Project has embraced this philosophy and aims to increase awareness that the medical, veterinary and health professions are careers to be considered by young people from traditionally under-represented social groups'.

'SHEFC is happy to contribute funding for this project. We hope that this work will not only widen participation, but provide both social and economic benefits, by helping ensure that Scottish HEIs produce professionals who will stay and work in Scotland.'

Media Relations Office (

For further details please contact the University of Glasgow Press Office on 0141 330 3535 / 8593 / 3683

First published: 25 November 2003