Call to get more rural & poor Scots into medicine

RCPE says government should be ‘more ambitious’ recruiting Scots from underrepresented backgrounds to medical school

Friday 17th May 2019

A leading doctors’ group is calling on the Scottish Government to be ‘more ambitious’ and expand a training programme that aims to get Scots from rural and poorer areas into medical school.

Professor Derek Bell of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, which has more than 12,000 members and fellows, says the number of places on the widening access to medicine course should double so more students from diverse backgrounds can study medicine.

The medical college president believes this is needed to “level the playing field in this fiercely competitive area” that sees ten applications for every medical school place.

Widening access to medicine is a one-year pre-entry course that helps eligible aspiring students get the experience and qualifications they need to get a place at medical school.

The programme, which began in 2017, will accept 50 applicants this year.

Professor Bell said: “While we welcome widening access to medicine, which has had early success, we don’t think that it goes far enough. We want to see more ambition from the Scottish Government in helping create a more diverse medical workforce. Ministers can do that by doubling the number of places for students from diverse backgrounds.

He went on to draw attention to the College’s annual schools lecture, in which experienced doctors encourage pupils to consider studying medicine.

Professor Bell continued: “A career in medicine is both challenging and rewarding, and you will gain the skills required to make a real difference to people’s lives, by helping to alleviate what can be complex medical problems. There is a wide choice of medical careers too, as well as many opportunities in teaching, research and management.

“Ultimately, increasing medical school places is essential, and more needs to be done in terms of recruitment and retention of medical professionals at all grades, in Scotland and the UK”.