A new medical school at the University of Sunderland has opened welcoming 50 trainee doctors.
The university was one of five institutions in England to secure government finding for a new medical school, meant to address acute shortages of GPs in areas that have struggled to recruit doctors.
In the North East, 30 per cent of GP practices have been unable to fill a vacant position within a year, while almost 20 per cent spent between three and six months finding a new doctor, according to figures from the British Medical Association (BMA).
But the university’s vice chancellor, Sir David Bell, last year compared Sunderland to an “insurgent” in medicine, encouraging a generation of doctors from more diverse backgrounds.
In 2018-19, only 4% of all new medical students came from the North East.
Laura Giles, 19, attended sixth form at the nearby Southmoor Academy, said: "No one in my family has had a career in medicine, or health care for that matter, I’m the first.
"I’m so excited to get started I never thought that one day I would be going to medical school, so this is a dream come true."