BWAMS society runs virtual conference for 596 participants! BWAMS Dentistry Officer, Golasa, writes:
Hello everyone- I am Golasa Sheikh Akbari and I am currently a third year BDS Student at the University of Birmingham. Towards the end of 2020 I began to set up a dentistry widening access initiative- here is a little more on my conference.
On Saturday 20th February 2021, Birmingham Widening Access to Medical Sciences (BWAMS) society hosted their first Dr.eam Dentistry Conference for year 10-13 students interested in a career in Dentistry. This virtual event was held via a Zoom Webinar, with over 1000 registrants, 596 attendees on the day and a range of speakers who gave a variety of inspiring talks and panel Q&A’s.
The Dr.eam Dentistry conference was the first dentistry focused conference to be held via BWAMS. Historically, other Dr.eam conferences have been held focusing on medicine and healthcare careers in general; providing an opportunity for state school students to gain an insight into these careers. Dr.eam Dentistry, a free national conference, was an addition to these Dr.eam events this year. Dr.eam Dentistry was in the form of a one day conference, focusing specifically on dentistry. The conference covered a variety of topics including: applications, entrance exams, interviews, life as a dentist, life as a dental student, insight into clinical work and specialties.
This year I am the BWAMS Dentistry officer and with this role I was determined to plan a core dentistry focused event, as I had highlighted that there was a gap in the Dr.eam events. I began planning this event in November 2020, and decided to follow suit of the Dr.eam Junior and Senior to hold the conference online this year and open to all year 10-13 students across the UK.
This Virtual Conference was on a much larger scale as previous in person events, which were open to 50 local attendees. The online nature of this conference opened up the opportunity to attend nationally for our potential outreach to students, particularly those from Widening Participation backgrounds. This also enabled us to have a much greater range of speakers from across the country which enabled us to have an even better conference.
The conference was a free one-day event, hosted on Zoom Webinar and ran from 9am to 5pm. The day comprised of a range of talks and panel Q&As from various amazing dentists, dental students and dental specialists from across the UK. They shared inspiring stories and delivered informative sessions for attending students. For a full list of talks and speakers please refer to the programme below.
We were overwhelmed by the attendance and engagement from attendees. We answered 2073 questions and we received some heart-warming feedback from the attendees; showing that Dr.eam Dentistry was very impactful as 99.8% of attendees would recommend the event to others.
Here are a few comments left by students after the conference:
“I would really like to thank you for giving me such a wholesome experience into dentistry and its course in general . I love how realistic it was and have decided that becoming a dentist is what I and wish to become my future profession. It was very inspiring and hopefully it really opened the other attendees’ eyes to how wonderful dentistry is.”
“I wasn’t too sure if i wanted to go into dentistry but after today I definitely have my heart set on it now. The information was very helpful and will definitely give me a head start as I’m only year 10. The last speaker especially was very informative and I felt as if he really explained the process of becoming a dentist.”
“It was extremely informative and detailed. I came in knowing little to nothing about dentistry but the conference informed me and educated me on everything I needed to know. It was well organised and overall very useful!”
“This event was very informative, due to the current pandemic my school hasn’t been able to explain anything about personal statements or the specifics needed to Dentistry , so I am very appreciative of the time and effort every speaker has give. Thank you for this opportunity :)”
With this conference I was able to conduct some research and write a paper which was published as a poster. I was also selected to give an oral presentation at the International Virtual Medical Conference 2021. This work enabled me to assess the effectiveness of Dr.eam Dentistry which was found to be very effective with excellent feedback as well as reaching so many widening participation students. I concluded the future of these conferences is virtual but they can be supplemented with additional in person events.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who was involved in Dr.eam Dentistry. Thank you to all the students for giving up their time to make this event happen, thank you to all our speakers for giving up their time to share their insight and knowledge. A special thank you to Dr. Clare Ray and Tom Syder for their continued support and the Dr.eam Conference Team who worked so hard to bring this conference to success.
To find out more about BWAMS and the work we do to widen access into Medicine and healthcare degrees, take a look at your website (www.bwams.co.uk) or follow us on our social media platforms (Instagram: @bwamsbirmingham, @dreambwams; Twitter: @bwamsbirmingham).
The future prospects of BWAMS and Widening Participation is bright and will hopefully go from strength to strength.