Intended for healthcare professionals


Impact of the covid-19 pandemic on medical school applicants

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 08 July 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o1398
  1. Viktorija Kaminskaite, Clegg Scholar and final year medical student1,
  2. Anna Harvey Bluemel, academic foundation doctor2
  1. 1University of Exeter Medical School, Devon, UK
  2. 2North Cumbria Integrated Care Trust
  1. Correspondence to: V Kaminskaite vk252{at}

The covid-19 pandemic has not discouraged applications to medical school. Viktorija Kaminskaite and Anna Harvey Bluemel investigate how much has changed in the application process since the start of the pandemic, and how students are adapting

Since 2010 the numbers of medical school places have risen by 31% (British Medical Association), with a corresponding increase in applications for those places. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) reported that medical applications increased by around 20% in 2020.1 Continuing disruptions to education are likely to have a lingering effect on applications in years to come—UCAS also reported a 47% increase in reapplications to medicine in 2021, suggesting that more students than in previous years were unable to secure a place during their first round of applications.2 Prospective candidates have been forced to adapt to new application processes and navigate increased uncertainty. Alongside the problems facing all potential medical candidates, the covid-19 pandemic has threatened to widen already existing inequalities in admissions, particularly the gap in recruitment of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.3

Work experience in an NHS under pressure

Medical work experience is often considered vital for prospective applicants to gain an understanding of a career in medicine, and to provide experiences that can form the basis of applications. When lockdowns were announced in March 2020, non-essential staff were pulled from clinical areas, cancelling planned work experience. As in many other areas, medical students …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription