Medical school applications

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7381.161/a (Published 18 January 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:161

Pool of potential medical students needs to be enlarged

  1. Cornelius Katona (c.katona@ukc.ac.uk), dean designate,
  2. Philippa Katona, principal in general practice,
  3. Margaux Katona, sixth form student
  1. Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Kent at Canterbury, Kent CT2 7PD
  2. Lower Clapton Health Centre, London E5 0PQ
  3. Francis Holland School, London NW1 6XR
  4. Department of Economics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL
  5. School of Medicine, Health Policy, and Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ
  6. Birmingham B20 3HE

    EDITOR—McManus says that the only way to increase the pool of medical school applicants is to lower A level requirements or to increase the pool of A level chemistry candidates.1 We argue that a better pathway to recruiting successful medical students is to appeal to a much larger pool both of able school pupils and of mature, older graduates and health professionals. Selection from this enlarged pool should be based on overall academic ability, which predicts both the likelihood of staying the course and ultimate success more powerfully than having science A levels and assessment of the personal qualities required to be a good doctor.24

    The real challenges are of affirmative action (making medicine seem an attractive career to the many young people who have the appropriate potential but are not currently considering it) and of tailoring undergraduate curriculums to meet the needs of students with the necessary scientific reasoning abilities but without the science knowledge base. Specific elements of such a strategy would include:

    • Dispelling myths to school pupils and their teachers that medicine is an option only for scientists and requires unreasonable levels of dedication and study

    • Broadening the range of A levels accepted without lowering grade requirements

    • Expanding graduate and professional …

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