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Professor of Medical Education calls for end to straight from school doctor training

Most people in the UK enter medical college straight from school. But in the November 24th issue of BMJ, Ed Peile, Professor of Medical Education at the University of Warwick’s Warwick Medical School will call for an end to straight from school doctor training to be replaced with a single system of graduate entry medical schools. He believes this will provide the experienced and diverse medical workforce needed for the future.

Professor Peile says:

"We must stop the headlong rush of pupils going straight from school into five year long medical courses. Bright teenagers are encouraged by teachers and parents to maximise their potential by aiming for the kudos and earning power of medicine. As consultants in their 20s, they will have little more breadth to their life experience than when they were studying during the week and spending their weekends meeting the unwritten requirements for school leavers to get into medical school: by working in care homes, hiking for Duke of Edinburgh Awards, and practising the cello."

He also believes that a graduate entry scheme would bring more diversity to the profession. He says:

"Diversity of the medical workforce has been hampered for too long by the "rhubarb forcing" techniques of secondary schools. Better grades at A levels are a predictor for medical student success, but our failure to nurture talent in deprived schools, coupled with the coaching power of private schools, has ensured that by restricting entry to medical school to those with better grades at A levels, we are further disadvantaging some school-leavers"

Currently around 10% of UK medical school places are on graduate entry courses, which enable graduates to move from science or arts learning at university to the level of competence needed for foundation year work in medicine. They can also concentrate on developing professional study skills rather than acquiring tertiary study skills.

Although cost comparisons between graduate and undergraduate courses are difficult, graduates are probably more likely to complete the course, adds Professor Peile. US data also indicate that older graduates practice more readily in underserved areas and are more likely to work in primary care, while data from Australia suggests that graduate entry schemes better prepare doctors for the workplace.

Professor Peile concludes that a change to a single system of graduate entry medical schools in the UK should attract mature learners with high levels of motivation, independence of outlook, and orientation towards hard work. Graduate entrants have the additional maturity and strengthened interpersonal skills necessary to provide the diverse multiskilled workforce needed for the future.

For more information please contact:

Ed Peile, Professor of Medical Education Warwick Medical School,
University of Warwick
Tel: 024 7657 3088

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager,
Communications Office, University House
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 8UW
024 76 523708 or 07767 655860


PR102 PJD 21st November 2007