GMC praises Scottish medical schools for reaching out to disadvantaged students
The General Medical Council (GMC) has praised medical schools across Scotland for playing their part in increasing the number of potential doctors by targeting students from more disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds.
During its review of medical education and training in the country the GMC found that all five medical schools are working together to provide better access to resources for young people from lower income backgrounds who want to pursue a career in medicine.
"Medicine needs to celebrate the contribution from students from all social backgrounds and so encouraging people from under-represented groups to consider a career as a doctor is hugely important. Scotland, like the rest of the UK, should have a diverse workforce, so it is vital that medical schools engage in ways to widen participation to medicine. "
Dr Colin Melville
GMC Director of Education and Standards
The GMC also noted that the medical schools all signed up to the Reach Scotland programme which provides information and learning resources for demanding subjects, such as medicine.
At the Glasgow School of Medicine more than 20% of students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, thanks to initiatives such as a summer school to boost the skills of potential students and a pre-medical school course which guarantees entry following successful examinations.
The Aberdeen School of Medicine also has an outreach programme with NHS Grampian and further education providers to help students from deprived backgrounds by guaranteeing entry should they meet the minimum academic requirements for the course.
The school and NHS Shetland and NHS Western Isles also help students in remote and rural areas through the innovative use of information technology to aid their learning.
As part of the review the GMC spoke to medical students, doctors in training, their educators and management teams at the five medical schools, eight territorial health boards and NHS Education for Scotland (NES).
However some areas of concern were highlighted during the GMC’s visits, including issues around rota gaps which impacted on the amount of time doctors in training have to study, access to IT equipment and the consistency of assessments for students.
Dr Colin Melville, the GMC’s Director of Education and Standards, said:
‘Medicine needs to celebrate the contribution from students from all social backgrounds and so encouraging people from under-represented groups to consider a career as a doctor is hugely important
‘Scotland, like the rest of the UK, should have a diverse workforce, so it is vital that medical schools engage in ways to widen participation to medicine.
‘It is excellent to see that all medical schools in Scotland are working hard to achieve this, and while there is always more than can be done to widen participation, the schools in Scotland are demonstrating their commitment to this important aim.
Dr Melville added that, overall, the GMC’s findings in Scotland were positive:
‘The standard of medical education and training in Scotland is very high, and initiatives to provide more students with access to the resources they need to be successful are testament to everybody involved.
‘The Scotland Deanery and NES deserve great credit for the support they provide to the boards and medical schools.’
Following its visits to Scotland, the GMC has set requirements and recommendations for the organisations detailed in its visit reports. They will report back to the GMC on progress. The GMC has also identified good practice and areas working well which will be shared with other organisations.
The GMC regulates all stages of doctors' training and professional development in Scotland, and this review was part of a series of planned scheduled visits across the UK.
The visits allow the GMC to assess the quality of both undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and training against the rigorous standards it sets.