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The many faces of the NHS: student’s experience of discrimination prompts online project

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 17 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4728
  1. Alison Shepherd
  1. The BMJ

For most medical students the first day on the ward is a time of excitement and optimism. For Alexandra Adams it was a day of anger and humiliation but ultimately one that inspired her to try to make a difference.

Adams, a third year medical student at Cardiff University, has severe visual and hearing impairments. Her white stick was what initially provoked the first of many discriminatory outbursts she was to encounter. But rather than quitting medicine she decided to find a way to be inspired by her experiences and to celebrate diversity in the health service. And so her campaign Faces of the NHS was born.

“I am making my way around the UK collecting portraits and stories of many NHS employees—past, present, and future—with the aim of celebrating our diversity and differences, and to show that these differences in our backgrounds, motives, and external characteristics should be embraced, respected, and treasured, not stigmatised, stereotyped, or insulted.”


  • Read more about Adams’s experience and why she started her campaign on BMJ Opinion at

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