Meeting our first Aggrey Burke Fellows
15 December, 2023
Our interim Chief Executive Officer, Sonia Walter, writes about the College's Aggrey Burke Fellowship medical students making their first visit to the College.
Even after more than two decades at the College, it still feels so special to meet students who are at the very start of their journey in psychiatry.
Each one is filled with potential, and to think of the incredible impact they will have on the lives of thousands and thousands of patients over the course of their career is really something.
But we know that not every student has the same opportunity and that is something we constantly fight to address.
Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to meet the three exceptional students who were awarded the Aggrey Burke Fellowship for Black Medical Students.
The Fellowship has been introduced to address the fact that Black – especially Black Caribbean doctors – are the least-represented ethnic group in psychiatry.
It was created earlier this year as part of our Equality Action Plan and is a two-year programme for Black medical students at UK universities. It offers a range of benefits including a mentor, CPD fund and a fully funded place at our 2024 International Congress.
So I was delighted to meet our very first Fellows – Oluwamayomikun Ajayi, Isabelle Gallier-Birt and Daniel Olaniyan – at a dinner held at the College to congratulate them on their appointment.
Also, to welcome two of the students’ mentors – Ifeoma Ameke, a CAMHS psychiatrist from Bristol who will mentor Daniel and Dave Barker, a forensic psychiatrist from Taunton who will mentor Oluwamayomikun.
Our President Lade Smith also attended the event, along with Raj Mohan, our Joint Presidential Lead for Equity and Equality, our Associate Dean for Choose Psychiatry, Declan Hyland, and our Careers Manager, Clare Wynn-Mackenzie who manages the scheme.
I’m delighted that we have been able to launch this Fellowship bearing the name of Dr Aggrey Burke – the first Black psychiatrist in the NHS and a trailblazer in our specialty.
It’s hard to put into words the impact Dr Aggrey Burke has had – not only on psychiatry but on medicine overall. He has spent his more than 40-year career confronting racial bias and driving reform. His courage and determination is unmatched.
It was a privilege to meet Oluwamayomikun, Isabelle and Daniel – three impressive and passionate students who I have no doubt will make a huge impact on the world of psychiatry and on the lives of countless patients. I’m very excited to watch our Fellows’ careers develop, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.