Intended for healthcare professionals


Five ways medical training needs to change

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 22 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j893


Health Education England’s medical director has set out a series of ways in which she believes medical training needs to evolve

1. Meeting need

HEE’s medical director, Wendy Reid, believes that the additional 1500 medical school places promised by the government at the end of last year should be used to ensure that more doctors are trained in the specialties needed most by the NHS.

2. Starting early

Speaking at a Westminster health conference in London on 9 February, Reid said that plans to change the medical workforce needed to include the undergraduate curriculum. “I think we have got to have a conversation with medical schools,” she said. “The NHS wants GPs, community doctors, people who understand prevention and public health, and psychiatry.”

3. Reducing anti-GP stigma

Such discussions with medical schools should be based on a report that HEE had commissioned about students’ experiences of general practice while at medical school, Reid said. The report found that there was “anti-GP rhetoric” in medical schools and that in some cases students “were actively discouraged from entering primary care,” she said.

4. Increasing flexibility

Doctors need to be more open to different career paths, Reid believes. “We need a more flexible workforce,” she said. “The fact that you can say that you’re a gastroenterologist a few years out of medical school and never do anything but gastroenterology when your hospital is falling over because of problems in acute medicine is no longer acceptable.”

5. Crossing boundaries

Traditional divisions between specialties and professions need to be reconsidered, Reid said. “We need to think about working across boundaries within medicine as well as across the other healthcare professions.”