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Medical student mentors in widening access to medicine programmes: 'we're lighting fires, not filling buckets '

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Background: Widening Access to Medicine (WAM) supports nontraditional applicants throughout application to study medicine and beyond. Many WAM programmes use medical student mentors, however, there is a paucity of research into what makes a good WAM mentor and what qualities they require. This research helps fill a gap in the literature about WAM scheme mentors and provides context for recruitment/training.
Methodology: Purposive sampling was used to select three year 9 mentees, four year 9 mentors, four year 12 mentees and four year 12 mentors. No limitations were placed on gender or ethnicity. Thirty-minute semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed qualitatively, drawing on an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach. This study received ethical approval from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) Research Governance and Ethics Committee.
Results: Four main themes were identified: mentor – mentee relationship, mentor background and attitudes towards WAM, qualities and behaviours of mentors and differences between year 9 and year 12 mentors.
Discussion and conclusions: The results are discussed within the context of the existing literature. This research identifies the requirements for WAM mentors from both mentors and mentees' perspectives. This will inform future WAM schemes run at BSMS and may provide a basis for future research and improvement of WAM mentors nationwide.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2020

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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