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University of Warwick medical graduate is top performer

  • Medical graduate James Thornton during a visit to the Coventry and Warwickshire Air Ambulance base Warwick Medical School graduate James Thornton is top performing Foundation Programme candidate in the UK
  • Manchester-born James hopes placement at Southmead Hospital, Bristol is first step in career as a surgeon
  • ‘Don’t give up’ James advises aspiring medics, after he applied to medical school three times

A graduating medic from Warwick Medical School has achieved the highest score for a medical student in the national foundation job applications process this year, making him a step closer to achieving his ambition of becoming a surgeon.

It comes as the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) reveals that Warwick Medical School’s 2019 graduating medics achieved the second-highest average score in the Foundation Programme application process– the highest ever for Warwick.

UKFPO have released their annual statistics for the Foundation Programme, which manages the allocation of approximately 8,000 UK medical graduates to training programmes in hospitals across the country.

Medics apply to the Foundation Programme at the end of their medical degree with their preferred foundation placements, during which they spend two years training in specialist medical disciplines. The placement they are allocated is determined by a score based upon their academic performance at medical school and their clinical judgement assessed in the programme’s Situational Judgement Test.

For 2019, graduates from the University of Warwick Medical School achieved the second highest average score for Foundation Programme applications amongst UK medical schools – and the highest score was achieved by Warwick graduate James Thornton.

James, who is now preparing for his placement at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, said: “It was a surprise, I didn’t think I’d done that well. It allowed me to get my first choice of job which is what I really wanted. My aim is eventually become a surgeon, probably in orthopaedics.

“If you really want to become a doctor do as much as you can, talk to people, find out all the information that you can. And don’t give up – I applied to medical school three times. Stick at it, make sure you really want to do it. Once you’re here you’ll find it really rewarding.”

A lecture on a new technique in cardiac surgery at school was the inspiration James needed, abandoning thoughts of journalism and zoology. He didn’t manage to get into medical school after his A Levels, but undeterred, he took a degree in Biomedicine and took on a research job at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. With the experience and research publications under his belt, he applied to medical school again.

He points to the early exposure to clinical work at Warwick Medical School as the best feature of the course, which he considers the “most important thing in learning”. From his first year he was seeing clinical work firsthand in the community, and he greatly valued the regular contact with tutors and lecturers engaged in clinical work.

He adds: “The School was always aiming to improve the course. Staff really seemed to care about our careers. It opened doors to what I want to do.”

Professor Sudhesh Kumar, Dean of Warwick Medical School, said: “We are all really proud of James and wish him all the very best for his foundation programme. Our MB ChB students consistently perform highly and we are delighted with James’s exceptional achievement.”


Notes to editors:

Image of James Thornton during a visit to the Coventry and Warwickshire Air Ambulance base available to download at:

For more information/interviews contact:

Peter Thorley
Media Relations Manager (Warwick Medical School and Department of Physics)


Tel: +44 (0)24 761 50868

Mob: +44 (0) 7824 540863