MedRACE: putting racial inclusion at the centre of student experience

In 2020 all UK medical schools were asked to sign up to a charter for medical schools to prevent and address racial harassment. MedRACE (Raising Awareness Celebrating Excellence) grew out of that charter, establishing a student and staff group to address the four charter principles: supporting individuals to speak out, ensuring robust processes for reporting and handling complaints, mainstreaming EDI across the learning environment and addressing racial harassment on work placements.  

The city of Leicester became one of the first UK cities to have a majority minority ethnic population (59%, 2021 census), and sixty percent of Leicester undergraduates are from UK ethnic minority groups. Leicester Medical School also reflects this diversity, and its leadership were keen to hear about challenges students face and to be responsive to co-develop solutions to issues raised. Establishing MedRACE showed that we wanted students to have a voice on these important issues and support partnership working with staff to effect real and lasting change. 

MedRACE tackles a wide range of student issues, from sourcing theatre headwear that meets the needs of students who have braids, afros or wear hijabs or turbans, to ensuring that students aren’t disadvantaged in surgical placements for wearing the Kara.  

MedRACE have centred racial inclusion in the curriculum to ensure equity and safety. MedRACErs want to influence change – be leaders and advocates and this offers a great space to do that. An evaluation of MedRACE in 2023 by final year medical student Ese Oyokose highlighted that MEDRACE: 

  • Reached over 300 students in both year 1 and 3 annually with MedRACE co-developed teaching on being an active bystander since 2021 
  • Reached over 300 students in year 3 and 5 annually with MedRACE co-developed materials on inclusive curriculum since 2022 
  • End of block feedback, seeking feedback of instances of inequity as well as celebrating good equality practice 
  • Since 2021 14 SSC projects have been undertaken to build a more inclusive curriculum 
  • Published a local racial inclusion toolkit for staff and students in 2023 

Amardeep Sidki, 4th year intercalating medical student, and Kiran Bhavra, final year medical student, are both MedRACE Student Co-Chairs. They said: “MedRACE works so effectively because students feel respected by staff members. This creates a flattened hierarchy in the student-staff group, allowing the lived experiences from the student body to be heard. As a group, we are constantly inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of our members to step forward, share their experiences and take action to address racial inequality.”