First students start scheme to widen access to medical careers
A new programme to get pupils from remote or deprived backgrounds on the path to a medical career has recruited its first students.
The Gateway2Medicine (G2M) programme is aimed at giving students both the experience and qualifications needed to study medicine at university.
It is being jointly run by the University of Aberdeen and North East Scotland College.
It is hoped it could help meet targets to widen access to higher education.
The initial 20 students will be taught science and laboratory skills, and will also get work experience with NHS Grampian.
School pupil Emma Bowden, 17, from Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, has just been accepted onto the programme.
She told BBC Scotland: "I got in, I cannot believe it.
"Growing up somewhere rural, it's really hard to get work experience and the opportunities you need to get into medicine.
"This is a new route.
"I am so excited - my family are ecstatic. It's going to make a big difference."
Prof Steve Heys, head of the University of Aberdeen's school of medicine, medical sciences and nutrition, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for young people who had never thought of pursuing a career in medicine to do so.
"We believe widening participation in medicine is key, both to address inequality for those from social and geographically disadvantaged situations and to create a diverse environment that benefits all our students and medical practice in Scotland.
"Our nationally-acclaimed research in this area shows that highly-achieving school pupils at schools in deprived areas are less likely than those from other school backgrounds to ever consider medicine as an option.
"When they do, the practical support available is often limited or even discourages medicine as a career."
Susan Grant, director of curriculum at North East Scotland College, added: "Although we have been delivering science in the curriculum for many years, this is an exciting new avenue for us and we are delighted to be part of this innovative opportunity for students who may not have traditionally considered medicine as a career."