Widening participation

According to the British Medical Association, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds use healthcare twice as frequently as the average – but only one in five UK doctors comes from these groups.

Our Widening Participation team aims to change this throughout the north of England. A variety of innovative projects reach out to young people in our region's schools and colleges, raising their aspirations and encouraging them to consider a career in medicine.

Our strategy

The Widening Participation team has published its strategy for the current three years:

Current projects

We've created a special website for applicants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

  • Post 16

    Making Connections

    Making Connections is suitable for students in Year 12 and Year 13 who are taking Biology and Chemistry at A Level or Health and Social Care students. 

    Making Connections aims to develop an understanding of the range of health related careers in the NHS and the links between these careers and science in school. Above all, the project aims to enthuse students about science and raise their aspirations accordingly.

    The project involves a four-week cycle, including a variety of activities which all relate to a single virtual patient scenario, connected to an aspect of the sixth-form science curriculum:
    • an introduction to problem-based learning, via a carefully-chosen virtual patient scenario
    • a visit to the HYMS multi-function laboratory for some related practical work
    • a series of virtual patient scenarios reflecting the A level Biology curriculum
    Students have greatly enjoyed the project so far. This was seen in their comments after an interim-evaluation:

    • "I am even more determined to study medicine."
    • "It has given me an insight into what the learning would be like."
    • "Developed my problem solving skills." 

    Year 12: Uncovering Medical School 

    'Uncovering Medical School'  is for Year 12 students who are considering applying to study medicine. Students look at a problem based learning case about Stan, a bus driver, with possible heart problems which may connect with his lifestyle. The session also includes information about applying for Medicine, clinical skills experience and activities to develop communication skills. 


  • Secondary School Activities

    We run a number of events for young people which feature virtual HYMS patients. Each of these 'patients' has been created with a particular age group in mind.

    Years 7 and 8: Lucy

    Lucy is the unfortunate victim of a car crash and the afternoon visit centres around the challenge to save Lucy's life after she is rushed into the HYMS virtual hospital! This project is digitised and,as well as real life HYMS students, the participants are guided through activities by four virtual HYMS students.

    Years 9 and 10: Gary

    The Gary Project seeks to re-engage Year 9/10 students with science and recognises the chain of links between the relatively low uptake of science subjects at school and NHS recruitment. The project is based around a virtual patient - 15-year-old Gary with respiratory problems - who is the stimulus for science work in school.


  • Talks in Schools

    HYMS Student Ambassadors are available to give talks and presentations in schools and colleges across the region. Topics include: studying medicine; life at university; and coming to HYMS. We are especially keen for our students to visit their previous schools.


    For more information please email Alexandra Jeffrey

  • University of York Science Trail

    Each year HYMS takes part in the University of York's Science Trail - an opportunity for local school pupils to sample a range of hands-on activities on a route around the University's Heslington Campus. Around 250 14-16 year olds take part in the event, part of York Festival of Science and Technology. Students who visit HYMS learn about and try out a range of diagnostic tests including testing blood pressure and reflexes, using a stethoscope and observing EEGs.

  • Summer school

    HYMS runs a three-day residential summer school in July for local Year 12 students planning to apply for medical school.

    Activities include problem-based learning sessions, clinical skills sessions, an ethics debate, workshops on personal statements and interviews, investigation of a 'model' patient, a conference and, for fun, circus skills and an evening of 'chilling'!

    The venue for the summer school is the University of Hull where participants stay in student houses for the three days of the school.

    A number of summer school graduates are now studying at HYMS, and comments from them include:-

    • "This programme has definitely given me a better insight into the reality of medicine which you wouldn’t be able to experience from simple conferences like Medlink etc."
    • "This course is a brilliant preparation for application – it has put my mind at rest that medicine is definitely the career I want to work towards."
    • "I understand the PBL course much better and, after talking to the medical students, I understand it from their perspective."

    Please contact Alexandra Jeffrey  for information on eligibility criteria.