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Should undergraduate medical students be regulated? No

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 05 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1806
  1. Edward Davies, editor
  1. 1BMJ Careers, London WC1H 9JR
  1. edavies{at}

    Jane Dacre and Peter Raven (doi:10.1136/bmj.c1677) are convinced that regulation will prevent potentially dangerous medical students from becoming dangerous doctors, but Edward Davies thinks it an absurd over-reaction

    Janet Smith suggested the idea of student registration in the Shipman inquiry.1 It was not strictly within the remit of the inquiry, and had it been in place would have done nothing to stop the serial murderer Harold Shipman, but it was raised nonetheless.

    The subsequent recommendations on medical regulation from the chief medical officer, in Good Doctors, Safer Patients, took on the baton and ran. Recommendation 23 said: “Medical students should be awarded ‘student registration’ with the General Medical Council, and medical schools should have a GMC affiliate on their staff who should operate fitness to practise systems in parallel with those in place for registered doctors.”2


    With such high profile support for student regulation you would expect the problem to be serious. And so it is somewhat surprising that a survey of postgraduate deans found that, of the 5833 doctors in their first year of practice in 2005, just 16 UK graduates were so much as “giving cause …

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