Junior doctor Medical student England

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BMA Q and A: widening participation, the juniors contract and the national exam

Harrison Carter and Charlie Bell 2014 16x9

BMA medical students committee co-chairs Harrison Carter and Charlie Bell answer your questions

How is the BMA medical students committee helping to widen participation in medicine?

Figures show that 80 per cent of medical students in the UK come from just 20 per cent of schools.

The BMA is concerned that some young people, despite having the ability to study medicine, do not get the chance.

Changes to student finances are likely to deter students from the lowest socio-economic groups from taking up careers in medicine.

The BMA has released a resource, which is the first step in what is likely be a prolonged campaign.

We have also arranged meetings with MPs to raise the issue and been given a seat on the Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance reference group, at which we will have a chance to take forward the Selection for Excellence report on widening access.

Meanwhile, MSC reps have volunteered to speak at events across the UK and urged members to take part in the ‘Who’s in Health?’ campaign.

The MSC has also updated online guides and links to bodies that support prospective medical students, and supported mentoring schemes, thus helping to boost the number of doctors opening their workplaces and providing work experience for school pupils.

Read more about the BMA's work in widening participation in medicine

How can students support junior doctors and protest against the contract imposition?

This issue is vital as the contract will be the one that all current medical students will be offered, yet we cannot take part in a ballot or industrial action.

We have published information on how to get involved, including asking medical students to sign our pledge to support the juniors’ efforts. So far, almost 7,000 have signed. Further guidance will be published after the ballot result.

Read more about the action against contract imposition


Have there been any developments regarding the proposed national exam?

Last September, the GMC council approved in principle a UK licensing assessment, which will be taken by UK graduates and international medical graduates.

The GMC also hopes the assessment will cover medical graduates from countries in Europe.

The GMC also says that the assessment will focus on clinical competencies and competencies linked to patient safety and healthcare quality in the context of UK clinical practice.

It will be formed of several parts, the last taken by the end of the first year after graduation for UK graduates.

The assessment will determine eligibility for licensing, but with a performance score made available to candidates.

The BMA will continue working closely with the GMC to ensure that the exam does not prove overly burdensome or become an additional expense for students or compromise the valuable diversity of medical schools. 


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