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State educated children do better at medical school

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j4239 (Published 11 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4239

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Re: State educated children do better at medical school

Having graduated from a state school myself I find this article interesting but also somewhat unsurprising. State schools vary on a huge scale. Some have teachers who are genuinely interested in making a difference to the life and future of their students. A number of others are completely dissociated and just want to get by each day working with children that they feel are incapable of achieving any university or even college level career. The one thing that is true for all state schools I would have to say, is that interest and motivation has to come from within self. Finding someone to help you and show genuine interest in your thoughts involves you having that initial passion yourself and actively searching for assistance and opportunities.

Interestingly enough, I have also been to private schools at a younger age. The general difference is the expectation of you from your peers and teachers, hence spoon feeding is the general method of teaching. You are meant to achieve. You are believed in. This does teach you a lot subject matter wise however does it really ignite interest and self motivation? Why would you ever need that if someone is teaching you everything you need to know to do well in the future?

Don't get me wrong though- numerous students coming from private schools have genuine passion and interest for medicine. However it is possible that they did not have to fight as many obstacles to achieve their place. That in itself is a feat. A majority of state schools have students with a poorer self esteem and having the confidence that you can do a course like medicine can be rarer than in private schools. Nevertheless the students who manage to push through this- regardless of whether their parents or teachers helped them- have that initial task of developing an interest in medicine themselves. This I feel is the key difference between the two.

University is always different to high school. No-one will spoon feed you. You will be advised of where help is available and the staff are enthusiastic to do so, but you must identify this need and utilise the tools available. State school students presumably have done this for years anyway and will continue in their efforts to find opportunities even in medicine. Perhaps identifying the need for assistance is the struggle that privately educated students struggle with once in medical school? Perhaps if this was addressed the rates would be somewhat more even.

Competing interests: No competing interests

20 September 2017
Amritha Sastry
Medical Student
University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen