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Select the right medical students to be the next generation of generalists

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 31 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6453
  1. Mohammed Ahmed Rashid, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) academic clinical fellow, Primary Care Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Strangeways Research Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB1 8RN, UK
  1. mar74{at}

Medical school admissions systems should be guided by workforce requirements, says Mohammed Ahmed Rashid, and so selection should be tailored to favour traits common to generalists

The Labour peer and esteemed clinician-scientist Robert Winston sparked debate earlier this year. He avoids hiring graduates who have achieved high first class degrees to work in his laboratories, he said, because experience has taught him that they are less likely to be well rounded and good team players.

Many hard working and gifted students may feel aggrieved by his approach, but it is refreshing to see public acknowledgment that recruitment strategies must assess more than just academic ability. A similar debate has also resurfaced about medical school admissions, with senior clinicians and medical educators reiterating the need for a holistic application system to identify the most promising future doctors.

A prevailing problem is how to decide on …

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