Our involvement as a professional regulator 

Admission to medical school

We do not have a direct remit over selection into medical school. Decisions on admissions are ultimately up to each medical school. Because of this, the guidance does not cover admission processes.

We have one main consideration affecting the admissions stage. We are responsible for determining the knowledge and skill needed to award a medical degree in the UK, a primary medical qualification (the Medical Act (S.5(2)(a)). When considering applications from disabled people, medical schools may find it helpful to consider the Outcomes for graduates with applicants, as the competence standards they will need to demonstrate over their studies.

Medical Schools Council guidance

The representative body of UK medical schools (Medical Schools Council) is developing guidance for medical school admission teams to support and encourage disabled applicants. In addition to meeting the outcomes with reasonable adjustments, the Medical Schools Council's guidance advises:

  • Being prepared to answer queries from perspective applicants with a disability.
    • considering setting up a dedicated email address or phone number so that potential applicants with a disability are able to ask advice
    • helpful interventions such as a visit to the skills lab, talking to past and present students and virtual simulation.
  • Making clear to applicants that talking about their disability in personal statements means that people involved in the selection process will know about it, but this knowledge will not impact on the decisions they make about that applicant.
  • Ensuring that relevant experience requirements for selection do not negatively impact on disabled applicants
  • Ensuring the decision on whether the applicant is able to meet the outcomes is separate from the decision to select the student.
    • providing reasonable adjustments for interviews.
    • ensuring interviewers understand they must not take the applicants disability into account when scoring an applicant.
    • as far as possible interviewers should not know about a candidate's disability. This may be unavoidable.
    • ensuring that they are satisfied that aptitude test providers understand their responsibilities under equality legislation, including having a process for candidates to raise concerns about the fairness of aptitude tests.
    • making a conditional offer based on the individual achieving the academic requirements of the course. Once an offer is accepted, then medical schools can get in touch to discuss the needs of disabled applicants.
  • There will be rare situations where the medical school has concerns that the nature of the disability may make it impossible for the individual to meet the outcomes for graduates even with adjustments. In these situations medical schools should seek the advice from a range of professionals including an occupational health practitioner with expertise in working with medical students.
  • At the point of making an offer, flagging that:
    • although they hope that they will go on to become doctors working in the NHS they are not obliged to, and that GMC registration will only be given to students who meet all the outcomes and are fit to practise at the point of graduation
    • there may be circumstances where adjustments medical schools can provide will not be available to them in the NHS.