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How working with charities is helping Sunderland students treat future patients

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Published on 09 May 2024

Student at the University of Sunderland presenting work
Student at the University of Sunderland presenting work

Future doctors at the University of Sunderland have showcased their work to local charities as part of an initiative to prepare them for their work in the communities they will serve. 

Medical students had the opportunity to present everything they have learnt from the charity they have worked with over the past year as part of the Community Partnership Project.  

This scheme aims to help build relationships with groups that provide health and social support in the region. 

Abeni Adeyemi, a second year medical student, said: “By engaging with the charities, it’s been nice to gain a more holistic approach about the members of the community and those experiences outside medical practices.

“You learn that people are more than the medical symptoms that they are presenting you with, they have other things outside of their clinical presentations that they need to cope with.

“This could be things like housing or looking at experiences as marginalised members of the community.”

This scheme aims to give students a firsthand perspective of how the voluntary sector supports people with their health and social care needs.

As future doctors, projects such as these give invaluable insight into the experiences of vulnerable individuals and groups face in the communities students will serve.

Dr Jo Dunnett, PL Professional Development & Welfare Lead at the University of Sunderland, said: "This brilliant project puts our students into the heart of community care with over 50 fantastic local organisations partnering with us.

“From mental health support to aiding refugees and those in prison, these partnerships offer invaluable hands-on experience.

“Understanding the diverse challenges people face is crucial for future doctors to recognise the impact of social deprivation and marginalisation on health outcomes.”

Dr Dunnett added: “We're immensely grateful for the service providers who give their time and effort and very proud of our students' enthusiasm in diving into every opportunity.

“Some have even continued their involvement in the charity they chose to work with, becoming volunteers, fundraisers, or social media gurus.

“The medical school’s collaboration with these charities sets a culture of service and social responsibility, ensuring future doctors don't just enter their roles with knowledge, but with compassion and advocacy for their patients and communities."

The event saw representatives from charities who have partnered with the University of Sunderland’s medical school through the project attend to help assess this work.

Kim Hunter, Business and Community Development Manager at Headway Wearside, said: “The students have been really fantastic, and they have just fitted in. They've come into the charity and used their initiative and they’ve communicated well with our service users.”

She added: “I think it's really important because they need to be able to have that cross-generational boundary working as well so that they can attend our social sessions and our service users can see young people in a good light.”

Resmina Reed, Funding and Personal Manager at Apna Ghar Women's Centre, said: “Just listening to the effect felt by the visiting students for the work that charities like ours has on them and how they see the value of it, I think it's really important.

“Our work is about trying to help the most disadvantaged and marginalised women who are really, really struggling. And that can't just be seen or felt through conversations only, I feel it happens when somebody actually meets women in that situation.”

If you are interested in studying MBChB Medicine at the University of Sunderland, find out more here: https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/study/medicine/mbchb-medicine/