Medical Students Committee

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Widening participation

Medicine has fallen behind other subjects in terms of widening participation and understanding the barriers preventing many of the brightest students from studying for a medical degree is an important step to widening participation.

The Selecting for Excellence Group report, 'Selecting for Excellence', has revealed that half of UK secondary schools and colleges did not provide a single applicant to medicine between 2009 and 2011. Also, 20% of schools or colleges provide 80% of applicants to medicine: grammar or independent schools being responsible for about half of all applicants to medicine. 

To address these significant disparities, the report makes a series of recommendations as to how medical schools and organisations such as Health Education England and the government can work together to address them. Download the 'Selecting for Excellence' report.



Watch the trailer and read our feature to learn more about widening participation.


Foundation programme oversubscription

The foundation programme has been oversubscribed since 2010 and Health Education England (HEE) and the Government continue to discuss how to resolve the growing problem.

For FP 2013, the UK health departments agreed to prevent a shortfall in posts by funding additional foundation programmes for over 150 applicants and we hope additional jobs will be created for FP2014, but the Government does not believe this approach is a sustainable long-term solution and alternatives are still under discussion.

The BMA believes that medical undergraduate unemployment must be avoided and any solution must ensure patient safety is prioritised and the UK's high standard of medical education is protected.


GMC registration

Moving the point of full GMC registration to coincide with medical school graduation has been suggested as one way to ensure all eligible graduates can still practise medicine even if they are unsuccessful in gaining a place on an oversubscribed foundation programme.

This is Health Education England's (HEE) preferred solution and has been included in its Mandate from the Department of Health for 2014-2015, but there remain a large number of outstanding questions and concerns about the merits of this proposal. These fall into two main areas:

  • The failure of the proposal to resolve the central workforce question it was ostensibly intended to address, ie. oversubscription to the foundation programme
  • The proposal’s capacity to create of a number of associated and serious problems relating to patient safety, standards of education and the UK medical workforce.

We firmly believe that a decision should not be taken until all the implications have been fully explored and a list of safeguards has been developed to ensure any such changes will protect patients, medical graduates and the high standard of medical education and training in the UK. Read HEE's proposals on this issue and the BMA's full response to HEE's proposals.


Foundation programme selection

Read our FAQs on the application process for the foundation programme and academic foundation programme.


Exceptionally low SJT scorers

This year, after intensive BMA lobbying, exceptionally low situational judgemental test (SJT) scorers will now be allowed a face-to-face review of their SJT outcomes to prove they meet all the requirements of the national foundation programme person specification.

Previously, applicants to the foundation programme with an exceptionally low SJT score were withdrawn from the national process and were not given an opportunity for a further review.

The SJT is part of the application process for applying to the foundation programme and is designed to measure the performance of applicants against the attributes required to work as an F1 doctor.

Applicants with an exceptionally low SJT score have not proved they meet all requirements of the national foundation programme person specification. Read our update on SJT exceptionally low scorers.


The Prescribing Safety Assessment

Prescribing is a fundamental part of the work of foundation year one doctors, who write and review many prescriptions each day.

The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) is a collaborative project by the British Pharmacological Society and the Medical Schools Council, with the aim of enabling students to demonstrate competencies in relation to the safe and effective use of medicines. 

The BMA Medical Students Committee has been involved in its development and worked to ensure the purpose and delivery of the assessment is as clear as possible for students. Find out more about the PSA.