photo of medical student Yusuf
photo of medical student Yusuf

Building on our pandemic experiences: Oxford student helps state school students get into medicine

In the last of our series featuring students who have contributed to the University’s COVID response, we're featuring Yusuf Ben-Tarifite, a fourth-year Clinical Medical student at Green Templeton. During lockdown, Yusuf set up The Aspiring Medics, an online platform to help state school students get into medicine and dentistry. Read Yusuf's story on the Oxford Students website.

Adapting to the pandemic 

I think it is important not to romanticise the pandemic and it was an absolutely terrible thing that was happening. But I do think that overall it was an opportunity to adapt to new circumstances. The shift towards more recorded lectures and more remote learning has been overwhelmingly positive, at least in my experience. If you're able to develop your digital skills, it's an incredible opportunity to really adapt. 

I really missed the little interactions that you have with your friends that make you feel part of that Oxford community – like when you're going to lectures or in-between lectures. Zoom and Teams meetings can become quite draining after a while, and there's nothing worse than spending all day in your bedroom on a laptop. Just being able to walk around Oxford now and have a place that you're going to feels good.  

The Aspiring Medics  

During the pandemic I set up The Aspiring Medics, an online platform to help students from state schools to get into medicine and dentistry. 

In the early months of the pandemic I was able to spend a lot of my free time in the evenings going on website-editing software, and creating the platform. We've grown hugely and have had over 100,000 views on our website in the last 12 months, and that's steadily growing, which is thanks to our amazing medical student team who do a great job.  

It's been really nice to get messages on WhatsApp, to hear people that have gotten into medical school and to hear those same people then want to actually help the next Aspiring Medics as well. 

I come from a low-income household, from a state school. I thought when I first started at Oxford I would be saying goodbye to my social life and spending all my time in the library. But actually sit's been really the opposite and it's been really great to be surrounded with such like-minded, passionate individuals.  

Skills for the future 

The skills I developed during the pandemic I’m already using in other ways. Whether it be marketing, sales, operations, teamwork, or leading a team of 40 students from across the UK. And all of that purely being online and through video calls.  

Having to navigate how you grow an online social enterprise with essentially just video calls, and how you're building trust online is also something that you learn about. It's been a challenge to be able to juggle that with academia, but I think it's made me more of a well-rounded individual. I think ultimately it will make me a better doctor.