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Student Careers

Graduate entry programmes in medicine

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 01 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:020368
  1. Linda Hutchinson, lecturer in medical education1,
  2. Patricia Hughes, subdean for admissions1,
  3. Peter McCrorie, director of graduate entry MBBS programme1
  1. 1St George–s Hospital Medical School (University of London), London

There are currently four graduate entry schemes into UK medical school based at Oxford, Cambridge, Leicester and Warwick, and St George's Hospital, London. Career focus asked pioneers of the scheme at St George's--Linda Hutchinson, Patricia Hughes, and Peter McCrorie--discuss their experience

Graduate entry to medicine is not new. Graduates, mostly with science degrees, make up 10-15% of recent intakes to 5 year and 6 year MBBS courses in Britain. Most come into the first year, but some universities accept students from biomedical or life sciences or dentistry into the third MBBS year.

The case for graduate entry

In North America medicine has been graduate entry only for several generations, and from 1997 four Australian medical schools changed from predominantly school leaver to exclusively graduate entry. Despite this change in practice, there is little research evidence on differences in subsequent performance between graduates and non-graduates. Research on students' age and outcome is inconsistent; some researchers found older students do better, whereas others reported the same or worse performance and rate of dropout. The strongest argument for admitting graduates and mature entrants is to increase flexibility, allowing people to make a career decision in their 20s and 30s, not just during their school years. In addition, graduates increase diversity in the student body, their motivation is less likely to be influenced by parents or school, and they have already shown that they can study successfully at university level.

In the middle to late 1990s, the Australian experience stimulated several UK schools to consider introducing a shorter MBBS course for graduates. This coincided with a new government, a new agenda for medical education, and encouragement to diversify entry. Within individual schools other factors, such as new leadership, were catalysts for change, …

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