Three projects were recipients of the Charles Boucher grant: an e-learning module on dyslexia, a collective for diversity in healthcare, and resuscitation lessons in secondary schools.

The grants is awarded by the Erasmus MC Honours Class Alumni Society, in collaboration with the Erasmus Trustfonds and the student organisation Geneeskunde in de Samenleving.

Each year, students can apply for a grant of at most 7,500 euros by submitting their idea for a project before September. “We aim to keep the grant as accessible as possible to enable healthcare students at all levels of education to apply”, explains Julia Postmes (25), sixth-year medical student at Erasmus MC (EMC), board member of the Charles Boucher grant. All winners receive the funds they need. Julia does not want to tell who much that is exactly.

The funds for the grant come from the sales of revision guides for end-of-year exams, which medical students compile voluntarily. “We decided to sell the guides so that we could do something beneficial for society with the money”, says Julia. This led to the creation of the Charles Boucher grant scheme last year.

Charles Boucher’s philosophy

The grant scheme takes its name and civic spirit from professor Charles Boucher, founder and mentor of the Medicine honours programme. As a doctor, he made a significant contribution to the current effective HIV treatments. Boucher passed away two years ago at the age of 63.

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His philosophy now pervades the grant scheme. “He believed that medical students and doctors should always stay in touch with society and that we should always strive to give something back”, says Julia. “In his eyes, anything was possible if you just put your heart and soul into it. We set up the Charles Boucher grant scheme with that philosophy in mind.”

Julia remembers Boucher as a ‘great scientist’ and a ‘wonderful mentor’. “On a study trip to Morocco he came and sat with students around the campfire,” she recalls. “He grabbed a beer and started chatting with us about life and what was going on in our lives.”

E-learning on dyslexia for lecturers

Last month, the grant was shared between three projects for the first time. One of the recipients is Froukje van Gelder (20), third-year medical student at the EMC and ambassador studying with functional impairment at the EUR. She will be using the money to create an e-learning module for lecturers on studying with dyslexia.

Froukje has dyslexia herself and notices that many lecturers do not know how to cope with dyslexic students. “It’s common for no allowances to be made in terms of the extra time we need to read something or the difficulties we have with certain fonts and colours in PowerPoint presentations”, she says. She is keen to change this by means of her module, which she is hoping to distribute to all lecturers at the EUR.

Froukje has already received positive responses from staff at the EUR. In due course, a student adviser will also be assisting her with the dissemination of the module. “I’m hoping that my project will raise awareness of dyslexia and other disabilities at the EUR.”

Part of the grant will go towards founding the Collective for Diversity and Inclusion in Dutch Medicine, which aims to boost diversity in healthcare. In addition, a group of medical students was awarded funding for the provision of resuscitation lessons in secondary schools.

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